skip to navigation skip to content

Split up ‘general’ hospitals


The financial straits of Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the NHS more broadly underline the need to split up “general” hospitals, Professor Stefan Scholtes argues in Cambridge Business magazine.


Professor Stefan Scholtes
Professor Stefan Scholtes

The financial troubles of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and the National Health Service (NHS) more broadly show the need to split up the UK’s “general” hospitals into two parts, Professor Stefan Scholtes of Cambridge Judge argues in an article in Cambridge Business magazine.

Hospitals should be divided so routine procedures are conducted at high volume in regional treatment centres, leaving general hospitals to focus on patients whose treatment is not predictable and requires creativity and close consultation among specialists, says Professor Scholtes, Dennis Gillings Professor of Health Management at Cambridge Judge.

“The current complexity” of general hospitals “leads to misalignment of actions, to situations where staff and managers are torn in different directions by the range of demands, and this leads to poor outcomes and inefficiency,” he writes in the November issue of Cambridge Business magazine, out this week.

A recurrent friction in a general hospital stems from the co-existence of two fundamentally different mindsets: that of ‘efficient execution’ and that of ‘creative solution search’.

In September, Addenbrooke’s CEO Keith McNeil resigned and it was announced that Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Addenbrooke’s, was to be placed in special measures after inspectors found problems in several areas including short-staffing and maternity services.

“Let’s hope that policymakers and the public draw the right conclusions” from the developments at Addenbrooke’s, Scholtes wrote. “The real problem lies not in the team at the top, but in the unworkable nature of the ‘general’ UK hospital in the modern era.”