'Make NHS like PC World'

The NHS should act more like high street retailers in supplying state-of-the-art products to customers for less money, according to the country's top doctor.

Sir Bruce Keogh, the Medical Director of the NHS, told The Independent the health service should adopt the business models of PC World or Dixons, where people expect more, but pay less.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
He said: "If you go down to PC World or Dixons, each year you would expect to pay less for a PC and you would also expect the specifications to improve.

"I have all sorts of people (in the NHS) saying to me: 'Give me £1,000, give me £200,000; I can improve our service'. My challenge is: every other aspect of industry has to improve the quality they offer for less. So we need to change that mindset."

Sir Bruce also told the newspaper he has plans for a mentoring scheme for NHS executives - much like the BBC's entrepreneur programme Dragons' Den - which will see them receive advice from entrepreneurs and academics.

He added: "Everybody is legitimately concerned about how we maintain a high-quality, free healthcare system, given that for the foreseeable future there will not be any additional money for the NHS.

"Since 1948 the amount of money available has gone up on average by about 4.5% a year. Now we're looking at no increase. For me, the issue is: is our cup half-full, or half-empty?

"If you look at successful companies that have seen themselves through tight economic times, the first thing they do is take control of their finances. I think the NHS has done that pretty well.

Five of the most fascinating companies
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'Make NHS like PC World'

Not many companies have films made about them. But the story of social networking site Facebook attracted enough attention to interest Hollywood, resulting in the 2010 film The Social Network. The interest was not just due to the immense popularity of the Facebook website, which was created in its earliest form by Harvard University student Mark Zuckerburg in 2004, though. It was also a result of the legal wrangling between Zuckerburg and fellow Harvard students Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who founded the social networking site ConnectU and accused Zuckerberg - who worked for them before creating Facebook - of copying their ideas and coding. In something of a damp squib ending, however, the case was dismissed due to a technicality in March 2007 without a ruling being made.

Most of the companies on this list are household names. However, comparatively few people have heard of Olam International, despite it being one of the world's largest agricultural commodity companies.

In fact, it produces enough cotton to keep everyone in the world in socks (three pairs per person, per year).

Fans of chocolate bars such as Mars are also sure to have consumed chocolate made from beans handled by Olam - they just don't realise it.

Headquartered in Singapore, Olam was founded in 1989. It now purchases ingredients such as coffee and cocoa from around 3.5 million smallholder famers based in emerging markets around the world. This enables it to work with communities in rural Africa and Asia on everything from productivity to environmental impact, resulting in a potentially huge impact on some of the world's poorest people.

Love them or hate them, Starbucks coffee shops are everywhere nowadays. Hardly surprising when you consider that the company has opened an average of two stores a day since 1987 (despite having to close some locations down too).
However, back in 1971 there was just one Starbucks coffee shop, in Seattle, Washington.
Named after Starbuck, the first mate on the whaling ship in the novel Moby Dick, the shop originally sold roasted coffee, but did not brew coffee to sell.
Now, though, you can get everything from a blueberry muffin to a mocha frappuccino from your local Starbucks store.

According to the company the white ribbon was introduced under the name in 1969. When competitors first entered the market, Coke made much of its curved bottle design which distinguished it from those that followed. As fewer and fewer people drank from bottles, the ribbon was produced as an alternative distinctive curve.

According to mokokoma, the apple is the fruit of the tree of knowledge. There is some question as to whether the bite taken out of it is a play on the word byte, symbolism of the fruit being eaten and the knowledge imparted, or just to make it look more like an apple and less like a cherry tomato.

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