UK community health visiting: challenges faced during lean implementation
Susan M Carr1,2, Pauline Pearson1, Lesley Young-Murphy3, Barbara Cleghorn4
1Centre for Community Health & Education Studies Research & Enterprise, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK; 2School of Health, University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia; 3NHS North of Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 4Newcastle PCT, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Abstract: This paper presents an overview of the challenges and potential of lean implementation for the health visiting service in England and examines the rhetoric and the reality of the situation. It is coauthored by academic researchers and senior service providers so as to embrace the multidimensional issues impacting on this subject. If lean thinking is to be implemented in relation to health visiting, it is important to understand how it is likely to be viewed by practitioners and line managers in settings where it is used. In order to contextualize the discussion, an introduction to the roles, systems, and structures of health visiting are provided. The literature on what lean implementation is, what it means, and in particular the application and potential of the approach to primary care and public health services is reviewed. The process and findings from a focus group convened within a large primary care organization in the National Health Service during their lean implementation is reported. The paper concludes that it is important for staff at all levels to see a clear link between strategic aims and objectives and the planning processes operated by providers and commissioners. It appears that the successful introduction of lean thinking should focus more on productive working and thereby reducing waste. This has the potential to refresh workforce models to ensure that health visiting and other practitioners liberate the use of their specialist knowledge and skills. In a context of enhanced partnership working, the stage is then set for providers to add value to the whole system and together improve service user outcomes.
Keywords: strategic aims, planning processes, productive working, reducing waste, primary care, service user outcomes.
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