Reading a recent article on HSJ Online I noticed that in some of the trusts under special measures there had been several leadership team changes.
Now as anyone who has worked in the NHS will tell you this is not uncommon. Clearly there has to be accountability at Board level if things don’t go to plan.
On the other hand is there a danger that changing leadership teams frequently can actually be counter productive?
Every NHS organisation has its challenges. Whether it is in A&E, financial performance, cultural or even in some cases the quality of services.
Running an organisation as large and complex as the NHS is not easy. Yes there might be issues that on the face of it are simple to tackle.
During winter for example it is almost guaranteed that at some point or other beds are going to be closed to new admissions because of something like diarrhoea and vomiting.
The trouble is that even when this arises, there are still patients arriving who need a bed. Eventually you have ambulances unable to hand over patients to A&E.
One might say take the patients to another hospital. The idea is good but at the same time it is highly unlikely that there is going to be a neighbouring hospital that is just sitting with a batch of beds that are empty.
On the positive side new leadership can often bring fresh enthusiasm, new ideas and drive. They probably can deliver a few quick wins.
What they are unlikely to be able to do, at least in the short term, is to bring about sustainable change.
This takes time, not least because there are many stakeholders who you have to get on board, internally and externally.
People generally get on board when there is mutual trust and mutual respect for each other. Again not something that is achieved overnight.
Often when you look at some of the most successful NHS organisations those that achieve the high performer status are often those that have a long and well established leadership teams.
The Bottom Line: While it is always important to have leadership and accountability, it is important to ensure that changing leadership teams is really going to make a significant long term difference.
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