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NHS leadership academy launched to develop "high standard" managers in healthcare

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Health secretary Andrew Lansley has marked the 63rd birthday of the NHS by announcing plans for a new National Leadership Academy for NHS staff.

Under his proposals, the Academy will provide the uniform high standard of leadership and management that the NHS needs to survive and succeed at this time of radical change in the health sector.

Lansley said "The NHS is at the forefront of innovation but excellence of services is varied. We all know that if patients go to wrong place at the wrong time, then the care they receive can be below standard. The normal reaction would be to centralise control but this is often too large or complex to be sorted by top-down answers and rules, which can then cause other problems.

"I want to give my power away. I want the centre to step back and let clinical and non-clinical management step forward but then be supported by the centre. To help with this, I am today launching a new Leadership Academy, a national centre bringing together in one place the latest thinking and best practice on leadership. By establishing the Leadership Academy today I want to help all doctors and nurses develop the leadership skills they need to drive a truly world-class NHS. Frontline NHS staff have shown they can work smarter, be more responsive and give patients better health outcomes. The challenge now is to make this the rule, not the exception."

Anne Rainsberry, director of people and organisational development at NHS London, said: "It doesn't matter if you are a doctor, nurse or manager - we need good leaders to improve care for patients. London has a fantastic track record for training some of the best clinical leaders in the NHS and this has delivered results; when clinicians told us we could save 500 lives a year by centralising complex stroke and major trauma services, we did. This couldn't have happened without clinicians in the driving seat. "Strong leadership will simply become more and more important as clinicians begin to commission London's healthcare. We are already leading the way to equip clinicians with the skills and support they need to manage health budgets. This will be greatly aided by the new Academy which for the first time will offer one common framework across the country to nurture talent at all levels, regardless of discipline or seniority."

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has already been supporting the development of leadership skills across the NHS through its work with the NHS National Leadership Council - a forerunner of the new Academy.

Its chief executive, Ruth Spellman, said: "CMI has long argued that standards of management and leadership in the NHS directly impact on patient outcomes and that these standards need to be improved. Tragedies such as at NHS Mid-Staffordshire, where poor management standards and senior management failings led to hundreds of unnecessary patient deaths, have highlighted that bad management really does cost lives and that urgent action needs to be taken to ensure those working in management positions in the health service have the skills and knowledge to do the job.

"Today's launch is great news for the future of the NHS as it is an opportunity to address the confusion that comes from too many organisations having responsibility for developing skills. By introducing a co-ordinated approach, the Health Secretary has given voice to the importance of building skills and performance against one set of professional standards and ensuring that all staff can be recognised equally for their management skills.

"The creation of the new Academy is also a signal that the role managers and leaders play in the NHS is beginning to be valued. By giving all staff - whether clinical or non-clinical - the same opportunity to develop leadership skills, Andrew Lansley has taken a massive step towards creating an NHS where standards are consistent and where an integrated approach to decision making will put patients at the heart of the health service."