Thornton wants NHS autonomy

29 Jun 00
Greater local freedom is the way ahead for the health service, according to NHS Confederation chief executive Stephen Thornton.

30 June 2000

Speaking this week at the confederation's annual conference, he said: 'At present, the NHS is organised into occupational groups, each with a clearly defined hierarchy. We are proposing instead that we should build on best practice where services are organised around patients and their diseases or injuries.

'We are arguing strongly for employers to be given much greater freedom locally to design these new disease specific jobs.'

Thornton also called for a review of the current network of health authorities and their role as strategic leaders within the NHS.

He said: 'We are currently in discussions with ministers about the concept of "earned autonomy" whereby those health economies that show consistent achievement of key objectives and targets are granted progressively more freedom to manage their own affairs.'

The NHS Confederation recently put forward proposals for a health service leadership academy and Thornton told delegates that developing leadership at a local level is important to the future success of the NHS.

He said: 'The real challenge is to develop what US leadership expert Peter Senge calls local line leaders – those people in the NHS who lead clinical teams in hospital or primary care, those who manage laboratories, kitchens or outpatient departments.

'They have the scope and the resources. They are accountable. They alone can identify where new methods and approaches can add value.'


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