Here is how to avoid courting failure in NHS business, says Rachael Rowe

Putting Patients Last is a critique of the way in which the NHS has conducted its business and, in some ways, a timely reflection, based on the theory behind Coca-Cola founder Donald Keough’s work The Ten Commandments for Business Failure.

Working through the reasons why the NHS fails in business may appear like sour grapes following the health white paper. But there are some well written discourses on lessons such as the perceived inflexibility of the NHS in major project planning and the decisions taken by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on expensive drugs, with their impact on primary care trust budgets and local priority setting.

Commandment three focuses on isolating yourself and how this leads to failure. In particular it focuses on the lack of seamless care between the primary and secondary sectors and the lack of communication around discharge planning.

Commandment seven challenges the reliance on management consultants and how this rarely changes the culture enough to transform care and talks about how the NHS could and should develop its own staff to do these roles.

What Putting Patients Last does is focus the mind on how to avoid business failure and apply those principles to the job in hand. Perhaps the additional commandment, number 11 - “lose passion for work and life” - is the most poignant of all and carries the real challenge to change with the opportunities that the white paper will bring in the next few years. l

Rachael Rowe is lead manager for the Dorset Cancer Network.