NHS faces leadership shake up, but critics say this isn’t enough

The NHS is to face an overhaul following the publication of an independent review which identified an ‘institutional inadequacy’ in how leadership is trained, developed and valued.

Led by General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard, the review found evidence of discrimination and bullying, as well as evidence some NHS staff did not feel comfortable speaking up.

In what the government calls the ‘biggest shake-up in health and social care leadership in a generation’, all seven recommendations have been accepted.

woman in red shirt wearing blue goggles

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘The findings in this report are stark, it shows examples of great leadership but also where we need to urgently improve. We must only accept the highest standards in health and care – culture and leadership can be the difference between life and death.

‘I fully support these recommendations for the biggest shake-up of leadership in decades. We must now urgently take them forward, to ensure we have the kind of leadership patients and staff deserve, right across the country.’

Over 1000 NHS staff were asked for feedback as part of the review which has led to suggestions for improved training and a transformation of work culture.

Plans have been set out in the report to improve services, tackle the Covid backlog and address health disparities across the country.

It was also strongly recommended that more should be done to attract strong, talented leaders to the most demanding areas of the NHS through greater incentives.

However, the Independent Care Group (ICG), a representative body for care providers, believes these measures are overlooking the real issue of a lack of funding, poor wages and a lack of support for staff.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: ‘As a provider organisation we fully support any moves to strengthen leadership within health and social care, particularly when it is targeted at driving up standards, improving training and achieving consistency.

‘However, we cannot help but feel the real priority at the moment should include getting greater support and funding to social care delivery, including registered managers, and better rewarding them and front-line care staff.

‘Battered and bruised after Covid-19 and struggling financially, care and nursing homes are closing and domiciliary care providers struggling and going out of business.

‘Whilst leadership is vital, what we need to see is investment targeted at the workforce, which is going through its worst recruitment crisis in more than 30 years. We need to better recognise, respect and reward the workforce first by properly funding a minimum wage and a career structure for staff.’

The ICG is calling for a more equal share from the £36bn Health and Social Care Levy going toward social care delivery and recruitment, as currently the majority goes to the NHS first.

Photo by MedicAlert UK


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