Government launches ‘far-reaching’ review of health and social care leadership

A new review aims to improve value for money in the health service

Sir Gordon Messenger will lead the government review into NHS leadership
5th October 2021 about a 3 minute read
“This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation." Sajid Javid, health and social care secretary

The UK government has launched a review of leadership in health and social care, led by General Sir Gordon Messenger, former vice chief of the defence staff.

The government describes it as the “most far-reaching” review into NHS leadership since the Griffiths report in 1983, and says its aim is to improve efficiency and performance in the NHS in England. Sir Gordon will be supported by a team made up of members of the department of health and social care (DHSC) and the NHS, including Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospital. It will deliver its findings early in 2022.

Announcing the review, the government said that strengthening leadership, and spreading the “best examples” of outstanding management, were vital to making sure that every pound of investment was spent well. It said that the review would also help reduce regional disparities in efficiency and health outcomes.

It is likely that the review will consider options such as bringing leaders from the private sector into top NHS roles, and it may also look at privatising some services.

Making taxpayers’ money count

“This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation,” said Sajid Javid, the health and social care secretary. “It will help make sure individuals and families get the care and treatment they need, wherever they are in the country, as we build back better.”

Although the review applies only to England, the government said the other UK countries would be free to consider its findings.

The government recently announced a £36bn investment in health and social care to enable it to catch up after the pandemic. It said that any recommendations made as the review progressed could be implemented rapidly to “make every penny of taxpayers’ money count.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Matthew Taylor urged the government to tackle the bureaucracy faced by NHS leaders: “If we are going to look at leadership and its qualities, then we also need to review the context in which our leaders are operating…That means the government will need to do what it can to ensure we have the right regulatory environment in place that allows local leaders, including those across primary care, to lead effectively, with less bureaucracy and interference holding them back.”

Sir Gordon, a commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who has now retired, was responsible for the hotel quarantine system for travellers from red list countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.