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More doctors to be recruited as NHS leaders

Health Secretary outlines measures to boost the number of clinicians in senior NHS leadership roles

Ingrid Torjesen

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has outlined measures to recruit more clinicians and the brightest graduates into senior leadership positions in the NHS.

Speaking at the NHS Providers annual conference, Mr Hunt said that senior NHS leaders had a challenging job, and that the role of a hospital chief executive is one of the most difficult jobs in Britain.

As the world’s fifth largest employer, the NHS needs to get better at attracting and retaining the best leaders and at investing in talent in the same way that large private sector companies do, he said, and outlined a series of measures to achieve that. They include a fast-track programme for doctors and nurses to become future NHS leaders, developing a new NHS-approved Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and expanding the NHS graduate scheme. The number of available places in the NHS graduate scheme will double next year from 100 to 200, and there are plans to expand it further, up to 1,000 places.

Mr Hunt 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.

“Currently only a third of NHS chief executives have a clinical background. Working with world class universities (Yale University this year) the government is creating a new programme to prepare and support doctors and nurses with the highest potential for leadership. The first students will enrol in September 2017. The programmes will be modelled on the successful programme piloted at Harvard University two years ago.”

The Health Secretary has asked the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management to look at whether there are any existing issues that stop clinicians transferring into management and what can be done to encourage clinicians to see a role in management as beneficial to their career.

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