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A retired general has been appointed to shake up the leadership of the NHS and social care in England, while the government tries to increase value for money from billions that can be obtained from a new levy on health and social care.
General Sir Gordon Messenger, former deputy chief of defense staff, will launch the most comprehensive overview of how the NHS is being run for 40 years, with recommendations to be made to Sajid Javid, secretary of health and social care, early next year.
Javid said the government ‘is committed to providing the resources for health and social care, but it needs to change for the better’.
The review will “shed light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to promote efficiency and innovation”. It would help ensure that individuals and families receive the necessary care and treatment wherever they have been in the country, he added.
According to plans announced last month, national insurance will be increased by 1.25 percentage points of salary for employers and employees from April 2022, providing £ 36 billion over three years for the NHS and social care. A total of £ 25 billion is being allocated to NHS England, £ 5 billion for healthcare elsewhere in the UK and £ 5.4 billion for social care.
However, the Treasury has long been concerned that the billions it imports into a cash-hungry health service are not delivering corresponding improvements.
The new levy will leave the UK with the highest tax burden since 1950, sharpening ministers’ determination to ensure the money is well spent.
About 5.6 million people are awaiting treatment, including many whose care was postponed during the pandemic and threaten to undermine the government’s claim to successful stewardship of the service at the next general election.
The review will be followed by ‘a delivery schedule with clear timing on the implementation of agreed recommendations’, the government said.
Officials said Messenger would explore ways to replicate the best examples of leadership, “as well as look at how to do more to support the training and development of existing leaders and support the pipeline of talented future leaders in the system” .
The review will also look at “how we can gain new expertise and talent in management positions in the health and care systems”.
The NHS is sometimes criticized for not being able to distribute more innovations that have proven their worth in one part of the system.
Officials said strengthening leadership, including clinical leadership, and disseminating the best examples of excellent governance ‘is essential to ensure that every pound of investment is well spent’. These improvements would also ‘help reduce regional disparities in efficacy and health outcomes’.
Messenger will have a team of health department and NHS officials led by Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospital. They will also work closely with NHS CEO Amanda Pritchard and other health and care leaders.
The work of the review only applies to England, although other countries ‘could of course consider its findings’, the government said.
Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, said it was right that new leadership skills and approaches were needed, but “the operating environment is one of the most difficult that NHS leaders have experienced and this review will have to support their progress, not does not hinder. ”.
This means that the government ‘must do what it can to ensure that we have the right regulatory environment that can effectively guide local leaders, including those in primary care, with less bureaucracy and interference that prevents them’, Taylor added.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS providers, said international evidence showed that the NHS ‘is one of the most effective health services in the world’. The past 18 months of the pandemic have shown how the top NHS leaders, working with staff, can truly deliver world-class care.
“The leaders are also committed to improving care, reducing variation and reducing waste,” he added. ‘They will therefore want to work closely with this new review to identify ways to improve and deliver full value for the extra new taxpayer investment in the NHS.