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30.09.15

Providers tell NHS Improvement to abandon ‘just do it’ approach

The incoming CEO of NHS Improvement, the agency name for the recently announced Monitor-NHS TDA merger, must give up on the top-down ‘just do it’ approach to managing performance, according to a group of health leaders. 

In a collection of opinion pieces published by the Nuffield Trust and NHS Providers, senior health officials have called on the new organisation to create a sense of “inspiration” and “shared understanding” of how to tackle the many challenges facing the NHS. 

The ‘What do leaders want from NHS Improvement?’ document has been published the same day that board papers are being presented to Monitor on the programme structure of the merger, set to be in operation from April 2016. 

As NHE reported earlier this week, at the top of NHS Improvement’s power structure will sit a Monitor/TDA board and ministers from the Department of Health, to whom NHS Improvement’s chair, Ed Smith, will report. 

In one of the articles published today (30 September), Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of National Voices, advised the new leadership of NHS Improvement to insist on a “really clear and simple mandate”. 

“Don’t be an empire builder,” he said. “The more you have to do, the more likely it will either duplicate or get in the way of what others are doing.” 

Former health secretary Stephen Dorrell added that the new organisation will need to quickly show that its primary focus is “genuine service improvement” and that both service users and staff interests are no longer the victims of “political fudge”. 

The Monitor papers state: “The principal focus for NHS Improvement will be to drive and support both urgent operational improvement at the frontline and the long-term sustainability of the healthcare system, working collaboratively with partners to achieve this. 

“Alongside that, NHS Improvement will be the healthcare sector regulator.” 

Chris Hopson, CEO at NHS Providers, added that to truly “improve” the NHS, the new NHS Improvement boss must understand that providers and commissioners will want to be inspired, and be part of a community of leadership that crosses organisational boundaries and has shared aims, values, and behaviours. 

And Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the Nuffield Trust, said the new organisation will need to remain focused on the professionals who can deliver change, rather than trying to reassure central leaders in the Whitehall machine. 

The contributors to the ‘What do leaders want from NHS Improvement?’ document are: 

  • Prof Jane Dacre, President, Royal College of Physicians
  • Rt Hon Stephen Dorrell, former Secretary of State for Health
  • Lord Hunt of King’s Heath OBE, shadow health spokesperson
  • Dr Steve Kell  and Amanda Doyle, co-chairs, NHS Clinical Commissioning
  • Sarah Jane Marsh, chief executive, Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Trust
  • Claire Murdoch, chief executive, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
  • Angela Pedder, chief executive, Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • Jeremy Taylor, chief executive, National Voices
  • Tracy Taylor, chief executive, Birmingham Community Health care NHS Trust 

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