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Government plans ‘single set of management standards’ for the NHS

Published on: 8 Jun 2022

A government review of health and care leadership has recommended a single set of ‘core leadership and management standards’ for NHS managers.

The report by General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard calls for “consistent management standards delivered through accredited training”, according to a government statement this morning.

The full document has yet to be published but the statement summarises the findings and says an “institutional inadequacy” has formed in the way leadership and management is trained and developed in the NHS.

It says the report has produced seven recommendations (see in full below), which have all been accepted in full by the health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, who said they must be taken forward “urgently”.

Also among them is a call for a more “effective and consistent” appraisal system to reduce variation in how performance is managed. This is after the review concluded a greater focus was needed on “how people have behaved [and] not just what they have achieved”.

The recommendations do not include any registration system for NHS managers, despite calls from some over many years for more regulation of the roles, nor appear to include specific reform of the “fit and proper person” test, which has been discredited and under review.

Another recommendation is for an enhanced package of support and incentives to entice leaders into taking some of the most difficult roles. HSJ reported this as one of General Sir Gordon’s observations back in April, after briefings with senior figures suggested he felt NHS management and leadership were overly “task-focused”.

General Sir Gordon is a former vice chief of defence staff, while Dame Linda is chair of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. They led a review team comprising staff from the NHS and Department of Health and Social Care.

Mr Javid, who ordered the review, which was billed as the biggest review of NHS leadership since the 1980s, 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.”

NHS England’s chief executive, Amanda Pritchard, said: “We welcome this report and are determined to do all we can to ensure our leaders get the support they need to help teams deliver the best care possible for patients.”