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Hospital CEOs will get ‘fair’ treatment over ambulance delays, says Barclay

PUBLISHED

Health secretary Steve Barclay says trust chief executives should be held accountable for ambulance handover delays in a ‘fair’ way that recognises factors outside their control.

Mr Barclay made a wide ranging speech at a Policy Exchange event on Thursday. However, the content of the speech was much less radical than earlier press reports in which it was suggested he would tell the NHS to “scrap targets”, “declare war on pointless pen-pushers”, and deprioritise “cancer, maternity and mental health”. 

Last month, the health secretary summoned the chief executives of six of the NHS trusts which are recording the longest waits for ambulance handovers at their emergency departments.

Mr Barclay was asked by HSJ what the consequences would be for leaders who failed to improve the situation. He said: “It’s not about blaming the chief executives, it’s about understanding what are their challenges and how do we then get clarity on that.

“Once we’ve agreed on that, then you can have performance management to hold individual chiefs to [account on] the bits that are within their control, distinct from bits that may be the ambulance trust’s or others in the system.”

He said the government and NHS England would ask what was “within the chief exec’s control” and how a trust’s performance compared to that of its peers? Trusts would be asked to “comply” with best practice or explain why they were not. The Department of Health and Social Care and NHSE would then be able to decide “what are the things where it [the trust] needs wider support?”

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Source: HSJ, 2 September 2022

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