A top military chief who has played a prominent role in the fight against COVID-19 has been appointed by the government to shake up the NHS and provide better value for money.
A former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Gordon Messenger, is to lead a once-in-a-lifetime probe into health and social care in a bid to drive up efficiency and improve performance.
As well as saving money, the review will look at bringing in outsiders from the private sector into top NHS management jobs, a move likely to be opposed by trade unions, and could also consider privatisation of some services.
Sir Gordon, a retired Royal Marine general, led a mass community COVID-19 testing operation in Liverpool last year and has masterminded the controversial hotel quarantine system for travellers from “red list” countries.
He was a top commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and until his retirement in 2019 was one of the most decorated senior officers in the armed forces. He has since appeared at COVID news conferences in Downing Street.
Announcing the review, Health Secretary Sajid Javid – a free market Thatcherite with a career in business and finance behind him – claimed it would be the most far-reaching review of leadership in the NHS for 40 years.
“I am determined to make sure the NHS and social care deliver for the people of this country for years to come and leadership is so important to that mission,” said Mr Javid.
“We are committed to providing the resources health and social care needs but that must come with change for the better.
“This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation.
“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.”
The government says Sir Gordon’s review will consider:
- How to build on the best examples of outstanding leadership to reduce regional variation in efficiency and health outcomes
- How to develop the leadership skills needed this decade across both health and social care
- How to bring in fresh ideas and talented leadership – to ensure every pound is spent well
But Opposition MPs and trade unions are likely to claim that Sir Gordon, who will report early next year, will recommend mass sackings as part of his efficiency recommendations and that his review will pave the way for privatisation of key NHS services.
The government, however, says the review will look to improve processes and strengthen the leadership of health and social care in England.
Working with the health and care systems, Sir Gordon will have a team of officials from Mr Javid’s department in Whitehall and the NHS to support him, led by Dame Linda Pollard, chair of Leeds Teaching Hospital.
One Whitehall source said: “The government is determined that every pound of investment is well spent so that everyone gets the care that they deserve.
“Strengthening leadership, including clinical leadership, and spreading the best examples of outstanding management is vital in ensuring that every pound of investment is spent well, by driving up innovation and more efficient ways of working.”
The government also says the review will help to reduce regional disparities in efficiency and health outcomes.
Any recommendations will be considered carefully and will be followed by a “delivery plan” with clear timelines on the implementation of agreed recommendations, Mr Javid has pledged.
He says Sir Gordon will look at ways to more rapidly foster and replicate the best examples of leadership, as well as looking at how to do more to support the training and development of existing leaders and support the pipeline of talented future leaders within the system.
And in a controversial move, Sir Gordon is also being asked to look at how “fresh expertise and talent” can be brought into management roles in the health and care systems.
The work of the review only applies to England, though other nations will be free to consider its findings and the review team will be funded from within existing health budgets.
The government also insists the review will work closely with the new NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard and other health and care chiefs and will have strong engagement with doctors.
Source : skynews