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How could NHS change management agents learn from corporate innovation strategy to deliver services more effectively?
  1. Sermed Mezher,
  2. Muhammad Sajid
  1. Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sermed Mezher, Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton BN2 5BE, UK; sermed.mezher{at}


Background The National Health Service (NHS) is facing the most difficult time in history. Public satisfaction rates are falling, waiting times are rising and along with bed occupancy, staff morale is of major concern. With progressively worsening performance nationwide, undoubtedly, a large number of implemented changes are underperforming. To understand the aetiology of this, it is essential to compare NHS service change methodology with successful changes in other sectors; potentially boosting success in future projects.

Objectives/Methods To discover NHS and Corporate innovation projects of comparable complexity, environmental difficulty and scale; for comparison of strategy based on leadership theory.

Results Four case studies matching selection criteria were found from each sector. A total of 16 comparisons were made with Grupo Santander’s UK entry and the NHS ‘Making It Better’ programme selected as most comparable. Grupo Santander unified three failing institutions with legacies dating back to 1849, moving from worst bank to the group’s most profitable region in 8 years. The ‘Making It Better’ programme consolidated 12 maternal and neonatal centres to 8 after 2 failed prior attempts, costing £125 million over 12 years. Dissecting the two projects using primarily Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Model revealed deficiencies in healthcare stakeholder communication, unaddressed patient concerns and outcome measure collection. The latter is of paramount importance as it remains unclear whether drivers for change were addressed.

Conclusions With projects of comparable complexity, the corporate sector serves as an underutilised source of learning for NHS change management agents. Further study is required to determine whether the deficiencies identified are endemically lacking from NHS innovations.

  • medical leadership
  • project management
  • clinical leadership

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  • Contributors SM has led the conception, design, information collection, interpretation and drafting of the manuscript. MS has significantly contributed to structure, interpretation and review and approval of the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.