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Joe Tibbetts is the CEO Boilerhouse Media Group and managing editor Healthcare Innovation Monitor. Joe has advised many government, NHS and commercial healthsector organisations on digital communications

@joe_tibbetts

Gisela Stuart MP on the real leadership problem facing the NHS

The problem is not the quality of the existing NHS leadership nor what we are doing to help them improve but what we - society, NHS and the organisations that go to make up the NHS - do with and to those who come forward to serve.

There is a great debate going on about the quality of leadership in the NHS. This is a red herring. In an organisation the size of the NHS the quality of leadership is always going to be variable. A few leaders are great, a few are hopeless and most are somewhere in the middle of the OK but could do better spectrum. It is possible to help that middling cohort do better and efforts are being made in many quarters to do just that. However these efforts are hobbled by the shortage of raw material to work with.

The problem is not the quality of the existing leadership but what we (society, NHS, organisations within the NHS) do with and to our leaders. What matters is how we value them, how we encourage them, how we manage them and, yes, how we lead them. The answer is "badly" in almost every case. Which explains why nearly fifteen percent of NHS trust, chief executive posts, are either vacant or will shortly become so and why the average tenure in NHS top management posts is three years or less.

In the WebTV interview above you can hear Gisela Stuart MP, Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston formerly a junior minister at the Department of Health and a mentor/trainer of leaders on NHS leadership courses neatly nailing the problem and identifying some of the reasons why we now have a lost generation of “could be” leaders who will never come forward to serve because they are (understandably) unenthusiastic about a career doing little but deal with a morale sapping burden of regulation, inspection, monitoring and criticism.

Joe Tibbetts is the programme delivery director for the Ockham, Practical Steps, GP programmme. Practical Steps, designed to help practices survive and prosper while making the changes neccessary for 'operating at scale' will launch this autumn. Email joe@ockham.healthcare for a prospectus.

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