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Truss move to cut management would ‘get in way’ of progress, says top CEO

Liz Truss’s desire to talk about cutting management in the NHS will get in the way of more important conversations about the future operating model of the health service, a respected system leader has said.

In an interview with HSJ, Rob Webster, chief executive of the West Yorkshire integrated care system, said NHS managers have been a “fundamental” part of the response to the pandemic and that they have a “good record of delivering” when backed by coherent plans.

His comments come after Ms Truss, who was confirmed as the new prime minister today, said during the Conservative Party leadership contest she was planning “fewer levels of management” in the NHS.

When asked about the comments made by Mrs Truss, as well as similar statements from health secretary Steve Barclay, Mr Webster said: “This is part of the reality of the NHS being a political issue, that you will get this sort of debate.

“And I think if you want to enter debate about the NHS being over-managed, you can look at any one of a number of independent publications that demonstrate that it’s not, from the Kings Fund, the Nuffield trust, and various others…"

Mr Webster said many patients in the NHS are still receiving good, safe and timely care, but at the same time many people are waiting too long to access services while staff have faced “incredible pressure” for an extended period.

“What we need to do is to work our way out of this,” he said. “And we can only do that with a coherent plan which is politically led nationally, politically owned locally, and led by people in the system collectively.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 6 September 2022


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