Andrew Murrison: We must encourage frontline NHS staff to take up leadership roles

Posted On: 
14th May 2018

There is much more to be done to encourage clinicians to assume leadership roles in the NHS and the wider healthcare sector, writes Andrew Murrison

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens
PA Images

In February 2017, with the support of colleagues with a passion for healthcare delivery, I established the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Clinical Leadership and Management. With support from Sir Nicholas Soames, Andrew Selous, Karin Smyth, and Norman Lamb, the central aim of the group is to examine, advance, and promote leadership in our NHS and the wider healthcare sector.

As a licensed medical practitioner with experience in both the NHS and Royal Navy, I firmly believe that quality management with active involvement from seasoned frontline clinicians vastly improves healthcare outcomes for patients.

Managers in the NHS deserve a tremendous amount of credit, which is unfortunately lacking at times, for the tireless work they do to optimise results for patients and staff across the United Kingdom.

In November, the group met with the chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham, Dame Julie Moore, who provided a fantastic insight into NHS recruitment and the current challenges of medical leadership.

Dame Julie supports the advancement of clinicians into central management roles but has sadly come to find a disinterest among frontline staff to enter the business-cultured world of medical leadership. This is a very real concern and one which must be tackled head on in order to keep patients and medicine at the very heart of healthcare provision.

The Group also met with the Director of the NHS Leadership Academy, Stephen Hart, who lent his support to the development of new processes and support for elevating clinical staff into management level positions.

It is of course encouraging that two highly-respected NHS recruitment managers are taking seriously the benefits offered by enabling clinical practitioners to assume central healthcare management positions. It is, however, incumbent on us as policy-formers to help create an environment in which frontline staff are both incentivised by, and prepared for, central leadership roles.

The group is very much looking forward to meeting with Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England on Tuesday 15 June to discuss this very issue and receive an update from him on the recruitment challenges currently facing our NHS.

There is much more to be done to encourage clinicians to assume leadership roles and the Group intends to be at the forefront of this development.

Support is of course required from members on all sides in order to put the future of healthcare leadership at the forefront of discussions over issues such as funding or seasonal pressures.

In the meantime, the APPG on Clinical Leadership and Management will continue to examine the recruitment challenges faced by central NHS administrators and welcomes colleagues in both Houses who wish to participate in this work.


Andrew Murrison is Conservative MP for South West Wiltshire and chair of the APPG on Clinical Leadership and Management