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Hancock says NHS should adopt McDonald’s leadership model to create ‘learn not blame’ culture

The NHS should look to McDonald’s to help create a “learn not blame” culture, Matt Hancock has said in a speech about his vision for better leadership in the health service.

In his speech at the King’s Fund annual conference, Hancock remarked that McDonald's “drives leadership training through every level of their company” and questioned whether the NHS, despite its “so much more valuable” work, can honestly say it places as much time and effort with its leaders.

The health secretary praised the food giant’s training and support programmes, and said that it could provide a model for developing leadership.

The speech comes the day after an official review into NHS leadership commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care found “a negative working culture” where “bullying and discrimination are prevalent and accepted.”

Hancock said: “At the moment, we don’t have enough leaders.

“There’s no organisation on earth on the scale of the NHS that deals with life and death decisions every single day.

“But that doesn’t mean we should be complacent or that we can’t learn from others – particularly when it comes to leadership.”

He remarked: “But look at McDonald’s, for example: they’re nowhere near as important as the NHS. What they do is spectacularly less complex. Yet they start leadership training at shift manager level. They drive leadership training through every level of their company.”

One in 10 chief executive positions in the NHS aren’t permanently filled, and yesterday’s ‘Empowering NHS Leaders to Lead’ report called on the NHS’s long-term plan to build a more “desirable” place to work.

The review, carried out by Sir Ron Kerr, stated that NHS leaders were “exposed to a range of unique pressures” and were operating in conditions that are “stressful and difficult, with a great responsibility and the highest stakes.”

Responding to the report, Hancock called for a “learn, not blame culture” to be implemented, a culture that is “less hierarchical, with greater autonomy” where whistle blowing is encouraged and staff can challenge without fear.

He spoke about the need for “better training, tech leadership and diversity of thought” and said “every leader, from the ward to the boardroom, must get training and development throughout their careers.”

Back in August, the outgoing CEO of top-rated Salford Royal NHS FT Sir David Dalton said that hospitals should be run like supermarket chains such as Tesco as they proved that a standard model “can drive up quality and increase efficiency” of services.

Image credit - Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

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