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Conservatives promise to consult on disbarring managers

Published on: 11 Jun 2024

The Conservative Party has said it will consult on a disbarring scheme for NHS managers if it wins the general election.

The party made the commitment in its election manifesto, published today, as part of its campaign ahead of the general election due to be held on 4 July.

This was alongside an announcement trailed last week to cut a further 5,500 managers from organisations not providing “frontline patient care”. The Conservatives claimed this would help expand “Pharmacy First”, “build or modernise” 250 GP surgeries, and “build 50 new community diagnostic centres”.

The manifesto said: “We will cut waste and bureaucracy in the NHS, reducing the number of managers by 5,500, releasing £550m for frontline services and streamlining oversight and accountability.

“We will carefully consider the implications of the review of the whistleblowing framework for the NHS and will consult on a disbarring scheme for NHS managers.”

The topic of regulating managers has come under renewed interest after neonatal nurse Lucy Letby was convicted last year on seven counts of murder, and a further seven of attempted murder, at The Countess of Chester Hospital.

Following the verdict, NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard said it was “right to look again” at the regulation of managers.

Meanwhile, shadow health and social care secretary Wes Streeting has said a Labour government would “introduce a system of regulation”, alongside training to “promote excellent leadership and to protect patients”.

A survey by the Managers in Partnership trade union found more managers supported regulation than opposed it, although respondents raised concerns over its implementation.

The manifesto also vowed to “increase NHS spending above inflation every year, recruiting 92,000 more nurses and 28,000 more doctors, driving up productivity in the NHS and moving care closer to people’s homes through Pharmacy First, new and modernised GP surgeries and more community diagnostic centres”. 

The document added: “We will grow opportunities for all types of providers – NHS, charity or independent sector – to offer services free of charge to NHS patients, where these meet NHS costs and standards.

“We will extend patients’ right to choose to more NHS community services over time, including diagnostics, talking therapies, and other mental health services. We will fully roll out Martha’s Rule, giving patients the right to a second opinion.”