Leadership within the NHS

Following a recent BMJ article, we reflect on how we can change leadership within the NHS for the better by equiping our staff with the right tools

What makes a good leader? It’s really hard to define, both from a linguistic perspective and practically. Buzzwords such as “motivating a group of people”, helping them to “achieve a common goal” are a good place to start.

The Francis Report published in 2013, looked into the Mid Staffs NHS foundation trust and identified poor leadership as a key factor in the failures in patient care. This in turn led to more of a focus on good leadership. This report showed the wider impact of the effect of poor leadership within the NHS.

Within a private company, a failure to lead may lead to high staff attrition rates, inefficiencies and reduced profit. However, in the NHS the stakes are higher – if people are not cared for properly, they can die.

Two years on, this problem has not really been fully addressed according to a recent BMJ article. So how can it be addressed? Most people are not born leaders, they need to be given the tools and the support to govern effectively. Yes, this costs money but one needs to take a more long term view. Good leadership skills result in better clinical outcomes by ensuring that correct values and standards are maintained, that staff are motivated and can focus on their patients. After all don’t forget that NHS trusts being sued for negligence costs time and money as well.

It could take ten years to effect change but more focus needs to be placed on it today.

Bodies such as the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM) are there to help inspire future leaders. They will be present at our Alternative Careers and Wellbeing Event for doctors in October for anyone that is interested in learning more.

So, I ask you, who feels that they can really make a difference?

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Sara Sabin

With a solid corporate background, Sara specialises in advising doctors in how to prepare a non-medical CV and how to prepare for a non-medical interview. She is also the Co-Founder of Medic Footprints.