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Scheme to encourage more nurses into NHS management

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for more nurses and doctors should be occupying positions “at the most senior levels” of the NHS.

He noted that currently just a third of NHS chief executives had a clinical background, compared to 74% in Canada and the US, and 94% in Sweden.

“Of course it feels harder to build a strong team when frontline pressures are so high”

Jeremy Hunt

According to Health Education England figures, 34% of NHS chief executives in England have a clinical background and just 5% of chairs.

As a result, the government said it will introduce new programmes with Yale University in the US and universities in the UK to “fast-track” nurses and doctors into leadership positions and create a new MBA programme for future chief executives.

The first students will enrol in September 2017 and these programmes will be modelled on the successful programme piloted at Harvard two years ago, he said.

In addition, he said he had asked the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management to look at whether there were “any existing issues that stop clinicians transferring into management, as well as making sure doctors and nurses who have had a spell in management feel able to return to clinical practice”.

Breakdown of senior leaders who are clinicians by training:

  • 48% of Executive directors
  • 34% of Chief Executives
  • 19% of Non-executive directors
  • 5% of Chairs

Source: Health Education England

His comments today on the need for more managers from clinical backgrounds accompanied the announcement of a drive to make sure the next generation of NHS leaders are “among the best in the world”.

In a speech, the health secretary unveiled new measures to bring in the “sharpest graduates and aspiring leaders” by recruiting up to 1,000 graduates in a “massive expansion” of the NHS graduate scheme.

Jeremy hunt new website

Jeremy hunt new website

Jeremy Hunt

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference this morning, Mr Hunt acknowledged the challenges hospital leaders face, saying that running a hospital was “one of the most difficult jobs in Britain”.

But he stated that, as the world’s fifth largest employer, the NHS needed to get better at “attracting and retaining the finest leaders and investing in talent in the same way the large private sector companies do”.

Acknowledging that the NHS already had “some of the most outstanding leaders in Britain”, the health secretary said: “Of course it feels harder to build a strong team when frontline pressures are so high – but my argument today is that building that team is the only way to deal with such pressures.

“More clinical leadership, fewer glass ceilings, more career progression and more flexible working: these are the changes the NHS needs to see over the next decade if we are to turn warm sentiments about frontline staff into practical improvements that show we truly value their contribution,” he said.

The government highlighted Dame Julie Moore, chief executive at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, as an example of a top performing manager with a nursing background.

Julie Moore

Julie Moore

Julie Moore

Dame Julie was appointed to the role in 2006 and now also leads the turnaround teams for two poorly performing trusts in special measures. In 2013, she was included in the first BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour list of the 100 most powerful women in the UK.

Mr Hunt made the announcement this morning as part of a keynote speech, where he also provided further details about degree-level nurse apprenticeships.

In addition, he confirmed that degree-level nurse apprenticeships are expected to begin from September, with up to 1,000 aspiring nurses training via this route in the NHS every year once programmes have been fully established.

Package of measures set out as part of Jeremy Hunt’s ‘vision’ for NHS staff:

  • Executive Fast Track Programme: A fast-track programme based at Yale University for doctors and nurses to become future NHS leaders. With the support of both the NHS Leadership Academy and the world-class business school at Yale University, the programme will equip students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours they will need to progress to senior management positions.
  • MBA Programme: Developing a new NHS–approved MBA working with Britain’s top universities. The new MBA programme will be a part-time course, so doctors and nurses can work towards their MBA alongside clinical practice.
  • NHS Graduate Management Training Programme: Recruiting up to 1,000 of the UK’s brightest graduates in a massive expansion to the NHS graduate scheme. DH has committed to expanding the number of high quality non-clinical graduates entering the NHS, who can bring a wealth of talent and management expertise to the organisation.
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