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Stop picking on us! – say NHS managers

NHS Confederation says it’s time to value health managers

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 06 July 2011

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar will today defend the role of managers at his organisation’s annual conference.

Addressing the conference, he will describe the attacks on managers as ‘unwarranted’.

“The NHS is desperate for certainty and clarity. We need recognition of the enormous job we face and action to help, rather than hinder us, in delivering it,” he will say.

On the reforms he will say the following: “We are concerned about excessive centralisation, bureaucratic restrictions on the freedom to act of local commissioning groups, the continued attack on management, and the lack of political courage when reconfiguration of services is justified on quality, safety, and, let's name it, on cost grounds. 

"We need reform that helps us deal with the complexity of competition and collaboration, not a political fix.”

And he will call for an end of what he describes as ‘simplistic and crass management cost targets’.

"The time has come to move away from a simplistic and crass management cost target with all the perverse incentives it entails. No one disagrees with the need to find efficiencies. But an organisation the size of the NHS, with £110bn of expenditure, needs a proper level of management to succeed. Most other comparable countries spend more on management than we do, without getting the outcomes and services. That's recognised by reputable bodies like the Commonwealth Fund. The latest management reductions bring us dangerously close to undermining the advantages we have." 

He will urge NHS leaders to have the confidence to shape their own destiny and challenge outdated business models and will call on policy makers to: ‘stop attacking and start valuing managers, who are essential to the delivery of high quality care’ and to ‘support NHS leaders to make the tough decisions on service reconfigurations that deliver the right thing for patients.’

In addition, Mr Farrar will use his speech to describe the results of the NHS Confederation member survey as a ‘wake-up call’ over the immediate and growing financial pressures facing England’s health service.

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