Devon

Exeter John Lewis trains NHS on customer care

John Lewis and NHS
Image caption John Lewis said it could learn from the NHS about running a large organisation

NHS doctors in Devon are getting training from John Lewis store managers to help them improve customer service and staff morale.

The retailer will share its secrets of the trade with the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG, which includes GPs and other health workers, is responsible for buying health services in the area.

John Lewis said the two organisations' concerns were "very similar".

The CCG took over responsibility for commissioning £1.1bn of healthcare services from primary care trusts in April.

The government hopes the change will make the NHS more efficient.

'Fantastic opportunity'

Jenny Winslade, the CCG's chief nurse, said it was a "fantastic opportunity" to partner John Lewis.

"When we buy services we focus on the needs of patients," she said.

"Customers have a great experience at John Lewis so the opportunity to partner with them is absolutely brilliant.

"It should have a great effect on how we commission health care."

There is no fee involved in the training, which is meant to be a "partnership", she said.

Kate Connock, store manager at John Lewis Exeter, said it had been a "great insight" for the firm into how a "huge organisation handles its challenges".

Ms Connock said: "It may look as if we have little in common.

"But whether private or public, our concerns and opportunities are very similar.

"These are two great organisations with a long heritage and history, but made successful by its people for its customers, so there is lots of synergy in the way we work with our teams."

Dawn Eckhart, of health watchdog Healthwatch Devon, said: "John Lewis is well respected for a good customer experience so they clearly have some tricks up their sleeves that would be good to share with our health services."

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