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Big shake up in health and social care leadership to improve care

The Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has welcomed the publication of an independent review of health and adult social care leadership, led by General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard – and, in what will be the biggest shake-up in health and social care leadership in a generation, is accepting all seven transformative recommendations they have put forward.

The review team met over a thousand front-line staff, managers and leaders to hear their views which informed their recommendations for improving the skills of all leaders and managers and putting the right culture, training and incentives in place.

While it recognised the current pressures faced by the workforce and identified many examples of inspirational leadership, it found overall there was a lack of consistency and coordination – in particular that there has developed over time an “institutional inadequacy” in the way that leadership and management is trained, developed and valued.

The seven recommendations are:

  1. Targeted interventions on collaborative leadership and a unified set of values across health and social care
  2. Action to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  3. Consistent management standards delivered through accredited training
  4. A simplified, standard appraisal system for the NHS
  5. A new career and talent management function for managers
  6. More effective recruitment and development of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs):
  7. Encouraging top talent into challenged parts of the system:

The report also found evidence of poor behaviours and attitudes such as discrimination, bullying and blame cultures in certain parts of the health and social care system. It identified a lack of equal opportunity for managers to access training and colleagues to progress in their careers, with those who have existing networks or contacts more likely to access these opportunities.

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.”

General Sir Gordon Messenger said: “I have always held our health and social care workforce in the highest regard, and my respect and admiration has only deepened through witnessing their selflessness, professionalism and resilience first-hand.

“The best organisations are those which invest in their people to unlock their potential, foster leadership and accountability at every level, with good leadership running through the entire workforce. This must be the goal and I believe our recommendations have the potential to transform health and social care leadership and management to that end.”

Publication of the report will be followed by a delivery plan with clear timelines on implementing agreed recommendations.

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