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Cass professor sceptical Rose can fix 'complex' NHS

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A leading professor on leadership has questioned whether the appointment of former Marks & Spencer (M&S) chair Stuart Rose to review NHS leadership is a “publicity stunt”.

Cass Business School visiting professor of transformational leadership Chris Roebuck said the complex structure of the NHS compared to the simpler model of M&S made it unlikely Rose would be able to make significant improvements.

“The arrival of Rose of M&S fame into an advisory role for the NHS is a new arrival in a long list of those high profile ex-private sector luminaries asked to get the NHS up to the standard we all want,” he told HR magazine.

“In order to be effective, any leader going into a new organisation has to answer two questions of the people in that organisation. One: do they know what they are doing? Two: do I trust them?

“Does Rose match up to the two critical questions, and even if he does, can he do anything anyway? Or is this another publicity stunt by yet another Government grabbing straws to be seen to do something to improve a problem that they can’t seem to solve?”

Rose has been appointed by the Government to review NHS practices and make recommendations about how the NHS can recruit top talent and improve organisational culture.

Roebuck said the complex structure of the NHS compared to the simpler model of M&S made it unlikely Rose would be able to make improvements. He called for the NHS to develop good leadership across the organisation.

“No matter how many CEOs you throw at the NHS, what it needs is good leadership at all levels, everyone – managers and clinicians included – working together for the common good and people communicating more effectively across the whole system,” Roebuck said.