Responding to the publication of the Messenger Review into health and social care leadership, Dr Malte Gerhold, Director of Innovation and Improvement, said: 

‘The Messenger Review is a promising start for health and social care leadership reform. Now the real challenge of implementation begins. It’s essential that the training, development and support needs of managers in primary, community and social care, as well as hospitals, are considered. 

‘The role of management is key to the NHS’s ability to provide high-quality services and to maximise the impact of its resources in the face of growing demand for care. Yet compared to other OECD countries, UK spending on health care administration is significantly lower – 1% of UK public spending, against an OECD average of 2.4%. This suggests that there is a strong case for investment to strengthen NHS management.  But if this investment is to properly targeted and used effectively, there is an urgent need for better data on the size and makeup of the NHS management population. For example, many NHS managers also have clinical roles. Yet we don’t know how many clinicians hold management responsibilities, or how much time they spend on management duties. 

‘This is why the Review’s pledge to carry out a stocktake of the management population is welcome. It is this – along with including managers in the ongoing planning around workforce planning – that will give us the data necessary to determine where the current gaps in the management workforce lie, and better understand what the priorities for future investment are. 

‘Government’s acceptance of the Review’s recommendations is just the beginning. The recommendations now need to be backed up with action and resources. If the NHS is to retain good managers and encourage talented people to join, it is vital that ministers and senior officials give the profession their full and unequivocal backing and champion their value to the NHS.’    

Media contact

Emily Wilson 
Emily.Wilson@health.org.uk
020 7257 2061

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