NHS needs to reflect on the hiring and firing process that it implements for its managers. The health service also needs to distinguish between those managers that cross the line and those that do get into difficult situations while trying to do exert their best effort.
The implosions of leadership at the NHS Trust for Liverpool Community Health and at Wirral University Teaching Hospital were followed by another incident requiring some deep reflection at NHS Improvement when it comes to how and when to fire managers at NHS.
Dido Harding, the newly appointed chair for NHS Improvement, revealed in an interview that there is a disquiet that has been widely felt over the failure of the health service in being able to distinguish between those people that are in senior roles that have been suffering from performances that are falling short and those that have actually crossed moral lines.
The current approach of the organisation is to go straight to a public heading and then later on, they are likely to just pop up again somewhere else. This is definitely not the appropriate treatment that is right for each of these groups.
These were comments she made in the wake of the revelation that her predecessor made arrangements for Bernie Cuthel, Liverpool’s chief executive to be moved in Manchester to a senior role after it has been found out that he has been suffering from some serious failings. Subsequent inquire revealed that among the numerous problems that were not revealed to regulators including patient harm and bullying among others. In addition, a secondment was offered to David Allison, Wirral’s chief executive, as a result from a number of directors who complained about governance and culture with him on the reins.
David Hill chief executive stated that his tendency for the system to look after managers that have been known for their egregious failings only highlights the attached dangers towards getting managers sacked for getting into difficulty while they are trying their best. If the system is determined to do so much better, then it must be able to tolerate those failures of leaders in order for them to be more encouraged to take risks that are likely to result in the improvement of the system.
The NHS has often reacted wrongly when it comes to failures as it finds soft landings and sinecures for those that have actually crossed moral lines while battering the career prospects, reputations, and even the mental health of those leaders in senior positions who were just but overwhelmed by the numerous problems that they are facing despite putting in their best efforts.
Ultimately, the question that will remain unanswered is whether more managers are ever going to want to become directors and chief executives. There is plenty of evidence on the ground to show that many talented people are trying to avoid roles that are high-profile as they believe that the risks of humiliation and defenestration far outweigh the rewards and opportunities that such positions entail.
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