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Debate overview: Positive action


Should the NHS identify potential leaders for development in order to build representative talent pools or is this best left to individual aspiration?

The NLC is taking an approach towards inclusion based on creating a culture in which everyone in the NHS genuinely values difference.

There are those who believe that positive action causes resentment and can be counterproductive

This is a longer term and potentially more sustainable approach than taking particular actions to support underrepresented groups.

However, there is concern that such an approach may take too long to deliver real change in the profile of NHS senior management, which is not always representative of communities served or of the wider staff profile.

There is an argument that we should set targets, hold boards to account, and pick out those with potential from underrepresented groups so that we bring about change more quickly.

On the other side, there are those who believe that positive action causes resentment and can be counterproductive and that all appointments should be on merit.

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Readers' comments (6)

What do you think?

  • Potential leaders and staff doing well in their jobs should be identified and offer structured development to progress them through to senior levels.

    There doesn't seem to be a clear, structured way for Nurses to progress and this is currently done in an ad-hoc way.

    By producing information on how to progress and the potential routes, Nurses could be signposted and get involved more easily.

    This would also potentially open up routes into senior management and board levels to some Nurses that may not have previously considered this, broadening the representation and increasing the sharing of frontline knowledge as key information.

    Even if only on a part time basis, I suspect there would be many Nurses, including myself, who would love to contribute and get involved in this process.

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  • There should be the facility for both approaches:

    1. Identify those showing leadership potential and add them to the talent pool for progression along a planned route.

    2. Provide support for those having developed experience and leadership skills through their careers.

    What we have to be mindful of are those who have ambition, show they can lead but do not have the people skills to be a true leader.

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  • Anyone in a position to recognise leadership qualities in any NHS staff and services should be able to flag up all appropriate people.
    What we really need at the moment is quality leadership wherever it comes from.
    My mum is 77 and her leadership qualities are still recognised on the ward.

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  • I think what the NHS needs to do first is have effective performance management that weeds out the many poor performing leaders. Agenda for Change does not do this. Sadly, many senior nurse managers are not that good as they are not trained in management, and they are under pressure from those above them to deliver an agenda that may not benefit their own profession, speciality or staff, by this point they become to scared to loose their status or grade to challenge. What has happened in health visiting is a good example of this.

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  • I agree with all the above comments.
    Specifically the damaging effects of 'ruthless ambition' and the effects on care standards and staff morale.
    Leadership selection seems to be a case of not what you know but who etc and can appear to be both disingenuous and rather manipulative. We need some really open,honest and democratic qualities of leadership selection. Staff should be encouraged to be part of the process and not marginalised within a fairly severe hierarchy of senior management.
    The current interview points system should be part of an ongoing process of selection not the final arbiter of choice.
    The latter priorities may be at odds with the interface of nursing practice or may be simply be serving personal ambition.
    Large salaries at senior management level
    may also attract the wrong kind of person who does a good job of 'selling themselves' at interview but not at practice level.
    (I wholeheartedly agree with paying people well for their skills but not if it's all a fluke. )

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  • I think that it is a good idea to help and nurture those with potential but not in specific groups. Anyone with strong potential and the desire to lead should be fostered.All staff should be able to access such support not just those that it is seen to be correct to encourage at that time in history, as it were.

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