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.

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.