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Understanding the UK hospital supply chain in an era of patient choice

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the UK hospital supply chain in light of recent government policy reform where patients will have, inter alia, greater choice of hospital for elective surgery. Subsequently, the hospital system should become far more competitive with supply chains having to react to these changes as patient demand becomes less predictable. Using a qualitative case study methodology, hospital managers are interviewed on a range of issues. Views on the development of the hospital supply chain in different phases are derived, and are used to develop a map of the current hospital chain. The findings show hospital managers anticipating some significant changes to the hospital supply chain and its workings as Patient Choice expands. The research also maps the various aspects of the hospital supply chain as it moves through different operational phases and highlights underlying challenges and complexities. The hospital supply chain, as discussed and mapped in this research, is original work given there are no examples in the literature that provide holistic representations of hospital activity. At the end, specific recommendations are provided that will be of interest to service to managers, researchers, and policymakers.

Keywords: NHS England; Patient Choice; elective surgery; hospital supply chain; qualitative case-study methodology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Kent, UK 2: Brunel University, UK 3: Health Care Management Consultant, UK

Publication date: March 1, 2011

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