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Can Six Sigma be the “cure” for our “ailing” NHS?

Jiju Antony (Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK)
Kay Downey‐Ennis (Daughters Charity of St Vincent de Paul, Central Management Office, St Vincent's Centre, Dublin, Ireland)
Frenie Antony (Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Chris Seow (University of East London Business School, University of East London, London, UK)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 9 October 2007




The purpose of this research is to analyse whether Six Sigma business strategy can be used to improve the financial and operational performance of the NHS. The paper will also look at some of the major challenges and barriers in the implementation of this powerful process improvement strategy within the healthcare sector.


This paper discusses whether Six Sigma DMAIC methodology can be a useful and disciplined approach to tackle process‐ and quality‐related problems in the NHS.


The paper presents some key findings from other researchers in the field, followed by some comments on whether Six Sigma is a useful approach to be considered by the NHS for cost reduction and defect reduction strategies.


The paper illustrates the point that Six Sigma is not confined just to manufacturing industry, rather it is equally applicable to service industry, especially the healthcare and financial sectors. The application of Six Sigma in the UK health sector is relatively new and the purpose of the paper is to increase the awareness of this powerful business strategy in healthcare discipline.



Antony, J., Downey‐Ennis, K., Antony, F. and Seow, C. (2007), "Can Six Sigma be the “cure” for our “ailing” NHS?", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 242-253.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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