Ben was CEO of Nene CCG for 8 yrs. He was a Director of an acute trust and has run national improvement programmes. He is a founding director and Principal Consultant of Ockham Healthcare, which he describes as ‘a platform for change’.

Viewing the NHS through Rose tinted spectacles?

Some say the Rose Report has been deliberately delayed and its conclusions emasculated simply because the self evident truths it contains offend some NHS leaders and their political masters. This cannot be true. Can it?

In early 2014 Stuart Rose, former Executive Chairman of Marks and Spencer, was commissioned by Jeremy Hunt to carry out a Leadership Review of the NHS. Judging by the long delays to the publication of his report, less than positive off-record briefings and what appears to be a somewhat watered-down set of recommendations that have now made it into the public domain, it seems clear that neither those who commissioned the report nor many of those who were examined in the process are happy with what Stuart Rose has to say  

But someone with the accrued experience and understanding of Rose must surely be worth listening to? If nothing else he brings a fresh perspective to a persistent set of problems. And Rose can afford the candour of one who is not dependent of the good opinion of the subjects he reports on. And he has demonstrated some considerable past success in turning around organisations that were failing. And what does the NHS need if not a fresh perspective, and greater honesty, and some ideas for turning it around before it hits the iceberg?

I urge you to read the report in full. (see below) It’s long, but then the NHS is huge and the problems hardly less so. We don’t have to agree with everything Stuart Rose says, or applaud his prose style, to get a huge amount of value from his thoughts and conclusions.

Change in the NHS is inevitable. Leadership is the single most important factor in successful change. In the case of the NHS the leadership needs to come not only from within NHS organisations but also from the corridors of political power where the tendency to hide unpalatable truths seems to be catching.

Below are ten quotes from the report, in no particular order, to give a flavour of what it contains.

  1. “Throughout the NHS the phrase ‘performance management’ when applied to individuals is synonymous with something negative” (p35)
  1. “The NHS is drowning in bureaucracy... There are two reasons for this: first, the NHS is too vertically structured; and second there are too many regulatory organisations making too many reporting requests.” (p40)
  1. “The short-termism of NHS management thinking derives from two things: the need for constant regulatory data, and the fear of not being able to change fast enough.” (p30)
  1. “Trusts are resolutely separatist, silo organisations; often they think tactically rather than strategically” (p44)
  1. “When people were asked: what does a good NHS look like, what would success be? shockingly there was no single answer.” (p21/22)
  1. “The NHS is unable to clearly state and identify in specific areas what they do well and what they could do even better; and this it seems makes the job of leaders even harder” (p34)
  1. “The NHS needs to focus all the more intently on a single ethos and vision to counteract its increasingly devolved structure” (p20)
  1. “It is striking that the NHS has a central resource for quality but not for people” (p5)
  1. “The current level of support given to CCG Chairs and other senior individuals such as Accountable Officers and Chief Clinical Officers is woefully inadequate” (p24) 
  1. “There are signs of growing frustration amongst those in CCG leadership roles at their inability to ‘make a difference’” (p25)

The last one is certainly true. Here is why I chose to give up my role in a CCG 

Read the report from Stuart Rose 

Watch our latest Front Line Story webTV programme The Crisis in General Practice 

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