Sajid Javid says NHS leaders will be incentivised to take jobs in challenged organisations through increased pay offers and better ‘support packages’.
In an interview with HSJ ahead of the publication of a major review into NHS leadership, health and social care secretary Sajid Javid said the health system must find ways to attract talented leaders into areas which are struggling.
He said: “One of [the report’s recommendations] is what I’d call breaking the cycle of poor performance, which is about encouraging top talent into the most challenged parts of the system with better support.
“We’ve got to give them incentives, whether it’s regional or other parts of the system, to move into that, and give them better support packages…
“That can vary from anything from looking at their pay packages and making sure there’s enough flexibility and variability in there, but also recognition I think is an important part of that, and support for them.
“If you’re running a trust as a leader in a challenged area then you might need more support around you than otherwise, and the right type of support.
He also believes that offering increased pay packages does not necessarily lead to increased costs, saying: “When you get top talent, although the package might be broader to get that, it will ultimately result in net savings for the taxpayer because it’s going to lead to better outcomes, better value for money…”
Mr Javid has previously spoken of plans for ‘academy’ and ‘reform’ trusts, which could involve struggling providers being taken over by a more successful neighbour.
Asked whether this would also be a way to spread the best leadership across the NHS, he said: “Today’s review doesn’t talk about the different reform trusts and models, and we will in due course get to say more on that. But it does rightly refer to the importance of having better consistency of management across the board and sharing good management and leadership in regions.
“So, if you’re an outstanding leader in a particular trust and perhaps the one next door to you is troubled, it definitely gives good solid examples of how that leadership quality can be shared.”
The full report by General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard is due to be published this afternoon.
When asked about the current numbers of managers in the service, Mr Javid said one area where he wants to see numbers cut is in dedicated ‘equality and diversity’ roles.
He said: “Many trusts have decided the way to [promote equality and diversity] is to have what you might call a diversity offer, and said ‘this is your job to do this’.… What the report says, and I agree with it, is it shouldn’t be the job of a particular individual to promote diversity and equality of opportunity, it should be the job of everyone in leadership and management in that trust. It should be shared by them.
“If people think ‘it’s not my job, it’s his or her job because it’s in their title’, then what happens is the job doesn’t really get done properly because everyone’s got to own it. That’s an example where I would like to see fewer managers in terms of diversity managers and things, because I think it should actually be done by all management and all leadership, and not contracted out as some kind of tick-box exercise.”
The Telegraph (£) has this morning headlined on this aspect of the report, saying it forms part of a ‘war on waste and wokery’.