Is the NHS really over-managed?

Managers There are over 35,000 managers in the NHS in England

It has become fashionable to bash NHS managers.

In fact, it is a common joke within the profession that you are better off saying you are an estate agent than health manager.

It is easy to understand why.

Ministers have been quick to criticise the "pen-pushing culture" in the NHS with both current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and his predecessor Andrew Lansley promising to reduce bureaucracy in the NHS.

The number of managers in the health service has already been cut by nearly 7,000 in the last three years and now stands at 35,650 in England.

But in the rush to tackle the "problem" has it been properly considered whether management and leadership in the NHS actually needs sorting out?

Research to be published later this summer by the Chartered Management Institute shines an interesting light on the issue.

The work has found the NHS has a poor record in investing in its managers.

Compared to other parts of the public sector, it spends nearly 30% less on training its leaders, the research suggests.

The CMI goes on to argue that this is misguided as good management leads to an engaged workforce that is more productive and provides better care.

Ian Reynolds, the chairman of Kingston Hospital, who has been crunching the figures for the CMI, is clear.

"It may be unfashionable to say so, but overall the NHS is under-managed."

Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, agrees managers have been unfairly targeted.

While acknowledging the failure in management over the Stafford Hospital scandal had been "deeply embarrassing", he also believes good managers are a force for good.

"We know if we have engaging managers we have an engaged workforce. These staff are more likely to be committed, work well as a team and go that extra mile for patients," he says.

Nick Triggle Article written by Nick Triggle Nick Triggle Health correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    How will the consumer know...?
    The same way u shop around for ur internet, cars, phones, TVs etc. Are u an expert on these? No. Do u know a good or bad deal? Yes.

    Don't fear choice. You are in the best place to make decisions, as u are the 1 who must live with the consequences.
    The same cannot be said of a bureaucrat, 100s of miles away, with no skin in the game, deciding for u.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    The NHS is a black hole that will suck the entire UK economy into it.

    If you can afford health care then you must pay for it.

    The NHS should only help the needy not the wealthy nor self-abusing alcoholics, smokers, drug users and obese.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    ... communist and soviet is inappropriate to describe the NHS...
    Nothing wrong with stating the truth.
    What's the difference between the USSR's health system and ours?

    roads, education, policing, fire fighting etc.
    Who do you think does all that? People.
    Who works in businesses? People.
    Who do you think built the first trains, cars, planes? People for profit, not the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    It was a rhetorical question, the 2 are almost identical.
    I don't hear families of the deceased of Stafford Hospital yearning to return there.

    "who paid for the roads"
    We did. And we built them!
    Why do we want an expensive government middle man taking his cut? Town businesses could fund the roads in towns easily.
    Companies already build &B maintain intercity highways, and users pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    It's not perfect but, better than a Monopoly. U have the ability to shun bad a operator & reward better ones with ur £s, the essence of competition.

    But, the NHS Monopoly takes all of our money, grows, despite killing 1000s at Stafford Hospital. We have no choice. If a private hospital killed 1000s, they'd be bankrupt, its operators in jail, and its presence eliminated from the market.


Comments 5 of 272



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