Matt Hancock: NHS needs to change mindset to improve leadership

29 Nov 18

The NHS needs a “mindset change” and better training to improve leadership in the health service, the health secretary has claimed.

Matt Hancock told a conference yesterday he wanted to see a health service where whistleblowing is encouraged and staff can challenge poor leadership.

“We need to train more people to be leaders in the NHS, we need more clinicians becoming chief executives”, Hancock told the King’s Fund annual conference yesterday. 

Currently only a third of NHS chief executives come from a clinical background, according to the health secretary.

But Hancock also suggested there needed to be “more porous borders into the NHS”, meaning the health service should also recruit people with leadership qualities from other professions.

He told delegates: “We need the best leaders in the NHS, whether they are from inside the system or from outside. What matters is that we create the right leadership culture: one of learn not blame, continuous improvement and the highest standards of patient care.

“And how we do it is by making sure they get the right, tailored training so clinicians learn how to lead, and leaders learn how the NHS works.”

He added: “It is a change of mindset that we need to see. We need a system where leaders are comfortable with challenges and changes, staff can challenge without fear and whistle blowing is encouraged”.

Hancock also called for a greater emphasis on diversity in top NHS roles.

“NHS boardrooms are spectacularly undiverse,” the health secretary claimed.

Staff from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds account for just 7% of NHS trust board members but they make up 40% of hospital doctors and 20% of nurses, he told the audience.  

Hancock called for a “diversity of thought”, which is achieved by diversity of those working at the top of the NHS. 

Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Social Care announced it had struck a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to cut the NHS’s medicine bill by £930m next year.

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