In a letter from professional leaders, the Times tries to defuse some of the invective against NHS managers. It is not the managers (properly they might most be called administrators) but the politicians who determine the “rules of the game”. They are the ones who should be on the rack…. Kat Lay misses the point in her comment on the letter… Nevertheless, it is interesting to ask what percentage of NHS managers and accountants find jobs outside the service once they have been in it for over 5 years…. Ineffective recurrent meetings, and impotence are common feelings in NHS managers and administrators.. But none of them have dared to come forward for interview as yet.. They are effectively gagged, and there is a perverse incentive to do nothing as there is less risk to their job..
Sir, As leaders in health and care we know that NHS managers make an essential contribution to the delivery of high quality services. Skilled managers work long hours in a range of roles to help healthcare teams care for patients.
Some managers have a general management, finance, HR or similar background. An increasing number come from the medical, nursing, midwifery and other healthcare professions, all of whom bring expertise and perspective.
NHS managers are as dedicated to the service as other staff. We find it regrettable, therefore, that they are so often the subject of ill-judged criticism and made scapegoats when concerns arise. This is especially the case at times of increased public interest in the NHS — such as the period before a general election.
We call on all politicians to treat managers with the same respect that they accord to other members of the NHS workforce.
Dr Mark Porter, chairman, British Medical Association, Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman, Royal College of GPs. Sir Simon Wessely, president, Royal College of Psychiatrists ,Peter Carter, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing ,Sir Nick Partridge, chief executive, Terrence Higgins Trust, Alan Milburn (former health secretary), Stephen Dorrell MP (former health secretary), Cathy Warwick, chief executive, Royal College of Midwives, Karen Middleton, chief executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, Sir Michael Rawlins (former chairman of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) ,Sir John Oldham, chairman, Independent Commission on Whole Person Care, Dr Clare Gerada (immediate past chairwoman, Royal College of GP’s), Paul Farmer, chief executive, Mind, Jeremy Taylor, chief executive, National Voices, Jon Restell, chief executive, Managers in Partnership, Alastair McLellan, editor, Health Service Journal
Doctors and nurses have defended NHS managers, saying that they are subjected to “ill-judged criticism” and made into scapegoats.
Medical leaders expressed concern that increased interest in the NHS in the lead-up to the general election in May could mean that managers faced “ill-informed allegations” and “lazy” stereotyping from politicians.
In a letter to The Times, figures including Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association, Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, and Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, defended their managerial colleagues.
They wrote that managers with both clinical and non-clinical backgrounds brought “a welcome particular professional expertise and perspective”.
They added: “In our experience, NHS managers are as dedicated to the service as any other group of staff. We find it regrettable, therefore, that they are so often the subject of ill-judged criticism and made scapegoats when concerns arise.
“This is both unfair and damaging to the interests of patients since successful joint working between managerial and clinical staff is an essential ingredient of good care.”
The letter was co-ordinated by the Health Service Journal and was also signed by Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn, both of whom are former health secretaries.
Alastair McLellan, the journal’s editor and a signatory to the letter, said: “Managers get a pretty unfair press generally. It is a particularly bad deal in the run up to an election campaign . . . and terrible in the run-up to a close election campaign in which the NHS will feature very prominently.”
He said that the letter was the beginning of a campaign between the HSJ and Managers in Partnership, the healthcare managers’ union, aiming to hold politicians to account for their claims about NHS management in the build-up to May’s election.
He added: “What NHS managers do is ensure the front line service has the resources it needs to operate effectively and efficiently . . . Nobody is saying NHS managers are saints — they are no more saints or sinners than any other member of the NHS workforce.
“Everything you could say about NHS managers — both good and bad — you could say about other sections of the NHS workforce.”
Patients and the professions are ready to ration health care strategically, without devolution. It’s the politicians and the managers who won’t hear of it because the strategy might mention rationing.
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