General Sir Gordon Messenger, former Vice Chief of Defence Staff, will begin the most far-reaching review in 40 years

NHS England

A former senior military commander is to conduct an overhaul of leadership in England’s health and social care sector.

Ministers said General Sir Gordon Messenger, former Vice Chief of Defence Staff, will begin the most far-reaching review in 40 years.

The review was announced ahead of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester and is due to report to England’s Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, early next year.

General Sir Gordon will have an NHS and DHSC support team, including Leeds Teaching Hospital Chair, Dame Linda Pollard.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: ‘I am determined to make sure the NHS and social care delivers for the people of this country for years to come and leadership is so important to that mission.

‘We are committed to providing the resources health and social care needs but that must come with change for the better.

‘This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation. It will help make sure individuals and families get the care and treatment they need, wherever they are in the country.’

NHS history ‘dotted with reviews’

Sally Warren, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, commented: ‘The history of the NHS is dotted with reviews of management and leadership by leading figures from outside the NHS that have failed to have significant impact, so the Government will need to be clear what will be different this time.

‘Leading health and care services is one of the most challenging leadership tasks in this country, so it is critical that this review ensures leaders feel supported to step up into these complex and demanding roles.’

NHS Confederation Chief Executive, Matthew Taylor, said: ‘NHS leaders will always want to learn and improve, and if this review is to have real value then it should focus on capturing the essence of what makes a good leader and help spread that throughout the service.

‘As the NHS changes and moves to system leadership, it is right that we need new leadership skills and approaches. But if we are going to look at leadership and its qualities, then we also need to review the context in which our leaders are operating. The environment is among the most fraught that NHS leaders have experienced and this review will need to support, not hinder, their progress. That means the Government will need to do what it can to ensure we have the right regulatory environment in place that allows local leaders, including those across primary care, to lead effectively, with less bureaucracy and interference holding them back.’

Chief Executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson, said health leaders are ‘deeply committed to improving care, reducing variation, and cutting waste—they know they need to think like a patient and act like a taxpayer. They will therefore want to work closely with this new review to identify ways to improve and deliver full value for the extra new taxpayer investment in the NHS’.

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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