Top bosses could be sent to failing hospitals to improve standards – Javid

It comes after a major review into NHS leadership found evidence of ‘poor behaviours’.

(Peter Byrne/PA)
(Peter Byrne/PA)

Senior NHS bosses could be sent to failing hospitals in a bid to improve standards, the Health Secretary has said.

A major review of NHS leadership, published last week, found evidence of “poor behaviours” including discrimination, bullying and blame cultures.

The review, headed by former military officer General Sir Gordon Messenger, concluded there was an “institutional inadequacy” in the way leadership and management in the sector was trained, developed and valued.

We need the best people in the hardest jobs and getting the right leaders in the right places takes the right incentives

Sajid Javid

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said senior NHS managers should not stay in the “walled gardens of England’s best-performing trusts” and should be incentivised to move to underperforming hospitals.

He told the NHS ConfedExpo conference in Liverpool: “We know that in some regions, poor leadership is a constant challenge. That’s an injustice we’re not prepared to tolerate any more.

“So I’ll make no apologies for encouraging top talent to areas facing more problems, especially some of our most deprived communities.

“We need the best people in the hardest jobs and getting the right leaders in the right places takes the right incentives.

Reform partnerships will be a central way we can spread good leadership to those places.

“I want to explore whether we make being part of a reform partnership a requirement for underperforming trusts. I believe this could be another powerful way to ensure that the leadership we need doesn’t stay in the walled gardens of England’s best-performing trusts but is there to help turn trusts around.”

Mr Javid said the NHS will have “zero tolerance on discrimination, bullying and blame cultures”.

“We know that, if we tolerate it, it doesn’t just make health and care a worse place to work, it makes this country a worse place to live,” he said.

“The examples of Nottingham, Shrewsbury and Telford and Mid Staffs shows the extremes where this behaviour can take us – standards not being met, complaints being ignored, lives needlessly lost.

“I was also moved by the insights on culture in the workplace.

“They found, and I quote the report, ‘too many reports to ignore’ of poor behaviour and that we’ve reached a point where, in some parts of the system, bullying and discrimination are, and I quote, ‘almost normalised’.

“All of us know, from our own careers, just how toxic this can be because when even just a tiny minority behave that way it can be contagious for behaviour and morale.”

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