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14.02.14

Expert-led reviews to boost leadership in NHS

Two new reviews will seek to improve leadership in the NHS and to help the health service to make best use of leaders who are well-placed to help turnaround struggling trusts.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the two reviews, which will be led by Sir Stuart Rose, former M&S chairman, and Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal NHS FT, respectively.

Sir Stuart will consider how the NHS can improve its organisational culture, through leaders being more visible and in touch with frontline patients and staff. He will advise the NHS on how to attract and retain the best leaders and examine the challenges facing staff.

He will look at the problems faced by the 14 trusts in special measures in particular, and mentor leaders in an unpaid capacity until the end of the year, when he will produce a short report.

Sir Stuart said: “Clearly the NHS is a very different institution from M&S, but leadership, motivating staff and creating a culture where people are empowered to do things differently are crucial to the success of any organisation, and I’m looking forward to helping in any way I can.”

Sir David will consider how successful leaders could take on struggling trusts, and how to develop a national network of hospitals and services to support this. This could help to end the isolation of failing trusts, and is a key recommendation from the Francis review.

He will look at the possible extension of buddying and mentoring schemes in the special measures programme, how incentives to take on struggling trusts could be improved, and for a new framework of NHS providers certified as the ‘go-to’ people for turnaround projects.

Sir David said: “The NHS is making encouraging progress in identifying great care but also in dealing with sub-standard care – but in order to take the next decisive step forward, we need to create new NHS organisational models which allow for the best care found in successful NHS Trusts to be extended to those hospitals who experience difficulty in meeting standards for patients.

“I am delighted to accept the Health Secretary’s invitation to examine how strong and stable leadership from our managers and clinicians can make a positive impact. We need to see how we can spread best practice and make more use of both our talented people and reliable systems, for the benefit of more patients.”

Hunt said: “Everyone wants the peace of mind of knowing their local hospital offers good care – so turning round hospitals where this is not the case is a critical priority for me as Health Secretary.

“Good care should never depend on your postcode, which is why new Ofsted-style hospital inspections are so important. But the difference between good and bad care can often lie in leadership, which is why I am delighted that one of the country’s most inspirational leaders has agreed to advise me on how we can attract and retain the brightest and best managers into the NHS so we transform the culture in under-performing hospitals.

“We can also do more to exploit the extraordinary leadership in our best hospitals by making it easy for NHS super-heads to take over struggling organisations. Sir David Dalton is one such leader, who with his team has turned the Salford Royal into one of the best hospitals in the country. He will advise me what more we need to do to enable our best hospital leaders to take over the running of hospitals in difficulty without compromising the success of their own Trusts.”

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The NHS has some excellent examples of great leadership and this needs to be commonplace across the service. Such leadership, which drives better staff engagement and empowerment, leads to better outcomes for patients and more compassionate care.

“Sir David is rightly regarded as one of our finest NHS leaders. Sir Stuart has a fine career in another sector. This combination could be very powerful in considering future leadership models for the NHS.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

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