Research Output
Lean in Healthcare: An Evaluation of Lean Implementation in NHS Lothian
  The overarching aim of this thesis is to critically evaluate the implementation of Lean in NHS Lothian, a National Health Service (NHS) Health Board in Scotland. Against challenging financial times, Lean has been endorsed for adoption in the provision of healthcare by The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland and so the objectives are to understand how Lean is implemented in healthcare, the impact on the organisation and what role(s) are held by front-line staff including medical staff, in this implementation.
This is an exploratory and descriptive interpretivist case study incorporating content analysis, observational and interview data which is based on a qualitative and inductive approach. The interpretative and inductive nature of the research is used to identify emergent themes and to afford greater insight into the implementation process, outcomes and the role of healthcare staff. The sociology of professions is used to evaluate the role of the medical professional within Lean from the emergent data, with the focus being on behaviours expected and demonstrated in Lean implementations.
The findings provide a mapping of the process for implementing Lean. It is also demonstrated that although medical professionals are expected to hold a crucial role in Lean implementations, their identity as a professional with corresponding power and autonomy provides challenges for implementing Lean in hierarchical areas such as healthcare. This professional identity also impacts on project initiation and sustainability as other stakeholders recognise hierarchical constraints. However, evidence grounded in the data illustrates that Lean breaks down hierarchies and has resulted in improved working in services. The implementation of Lean has been programmatic in line with best-practice case examples and has been driven by strategy and target pressures faced by services.
This research provides a contribution to knowledge in three key areas: firstly through mapping the approach to Lean implementation which is a contribution to Programme Theory. Secondly medical professionals are explored through the lens of professionalism which has received limited attention to date within Lean; and finally a set of propositions are generated as a framework for Lean implementation in healthcare.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    30 June 2016

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    362 Social welfare problems & services


Lindsay, C. F. (2016). Lean in Healthcare: An Evaluation of Lean Implementation in NHS Lothian. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from



Lean, programme theory, professionalism, lean implementation in healthcare,

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