Jeremy Hunt has made a call to make the NHS safer by removing medical decisions out of the hands of doctors and letting computers and protocols decide aspects of care instead.
The Health Secretary said that the controversial approach had worked in parts of the American healthcare system and that the NHS should go down the same route.
“The truth is that safety in healthcare is actually about adopting protocols so that you are eliminating judgment from areas where you know you’ve got a proven way that works better and allowing doctors to spend their time in areas where you really do need their judgment,” Jeremy Hunt told a fringe meeting organised by the Reform think-tank at the Conservative Party conference being held in Manchester.
The Health Secretary gave an example of a hospital in America where the production techniques of a Japanese car company had been replicated and applied to the healthcare. He said that this hospital had benefited from the new approach and that patients safety was better than ever.
He went on to argue that removing doctors from these equations would help reduce costs in the NHS wihtout affecting patient care.
“One of the safest hospitals in the world is Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle. They developed their incredibly high standards by copying the production techniques used by Toyota and this was very controversial when they started on this journey 10 years ago,” he said.
The Virginia Mason is a hospital for teaching with over 300 beds. In 2002 the hospitals managers visited the factories of Toyota in Japan as part of a traning course. It is a private hospital and charges its patients for treatment.