NHS England and NHS Improvement will produce a new document to specify which cultural values NHS leaders need to have and the leadership behaviours they should display, the interim NHS people plan has announced.
Known as the ‘leadership compact’, the document will set out new standards and behaviours for NHS leaders working for central and local NHS organisations and ‘shape the recruitment, development, and appraisal’ of NHS leaders.
NHS England and Improvement are expected to ‘undertake system-wide engagement’ by September 2019, the results of which will inform the compact.
When developing the compact, the two NHS bodies will consider the recommendations set out in Empowering leaders to lead by Sir Ron Kerr and the Review of the Fit and Proper Persons Test by Tom Kark QC, published at the end of 2018 and early 2019 respectively.
The interim NHS people plan – previously known as the workforce implementation plan – said:
‘We will work with staff and senior leaders across the NHS to agree an explicit set of competencies, values and behaviours required in different senior leadership roles to ensure that we have consistent expectations of our leaders, and that we are able to develop and support them effectively.’
NHS providers and commissioners who hold leadership positions need to develop a ‘positive, inclusive and people-centred culture’, the interim workforce plan said.
Clinical and non-clinical managers should be compassionate and inclusive leaders, the plan outlined, suggesting leadership development to be ‘embedded in all undergraduate programmes and continue throughout professional careers’.
Leadership and culture need to be ‘at the core’ of how NHS leaders’ performance is measured, the report added, a focus that will lead to NHS England and NHS Improvement reviewing how they assess performance through the NHS Oversight Framework.
It will also result in an emphasis on ensuring that the CQC ‘well-led’ inspection element is adequately focused on leadership, the plan stated.
The Government – which endorsed two of the seven recommendations in the Kark review – agreed in February to the introduction of ‘new competency standards’ that NHS leaders need to demonstrate they have before being offered a position.
Commenting on the interim NHS people plan, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said:
‘We must make the NHS an employer to be proud of. We want to eradicate blame culture, deliver massively improved mental health provision and provide greater protection from violence and harassment.’
Western Sussex and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Foundation Trusts chief executive Marianne Griffiths – who contributed to the NHS leadership section in the interim plan – said:
‘Frontline leaders can make the biggest contribution to solving the NHS’s current workforce challenges.
‘There is a welcome focus in this report on the importance of changing the NHS leadership culture to better support and empower frontline staff, so we can consistently provide outstanding patient care.’
As part of the long-term plan, ICSs and STPs will receive £2m to start or improve their leadership development initiatives.