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Can lean save lives?

David Fillingham (Bolton Hospitals NHS Trust, Royal Bolton Hospital, Bolton, UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 9 October 2007




The purpose of this paper is to show how over the last 18 months Bolton Hospitals NHS Trust have been exploring whether or not lean methodologies, often known as the Toyota Production System, can indeed be applied to healthcare.


This paper is a viewpoint.


One's early experience is that lean really can save lives. The Toyota Production System is an amazingly successful way of manufacturing cars. It cannot be simply translated unthinkingly into a hospital but lessons can be learned from it and the method can be adapted and developed so that it becomes owned by healthcare staff and focused towards the goal of improved patient care.


Working in healthcare is a stressful and difficult thing. Everyone needs a touch of inspiration and encouragement. Applying lean to healthcare in Bolton seems to be achieving just that for those who work there.



Fillingham, D. (2007), "Can lean save lives?", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 231-241.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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