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Managers under stress

24th June 2006

05052006_maninpainQ.jpgToo many new policies, a lack of coherent strategy and invasive performance management are creating ‘pathological’ levels of stress among NHS middle managers, an NHS Confederation report has warned.

The study says managers have fallen victim to ‘a plethora of plans, but a shortage of strategy’.

While all the policies are important, they are no substitute for a strategy that sets a direction and addresses how clinical services will change and develop. The current regime encourages boards and managers to spend time ‘firefighting and chasing targets rather than developing long-term plans’, the report claims.

The report’s findings were supported by a separate poll of 200 chief executives, which said the development of high-quality strategies for the development of clinical services was the most important challenge for the coming year, with the need to strengthen commissioning a close second.

Report author Nigel Edwards said managers needed to be given room to produce coherent strategies, as well as to push forward clinical development. The report identifies the ‘conundrum of competition versus collaboration’ as the largest unresolved policy question, and cautions against leaving decisions to market forces.

The report urges strategic health authorities and the Department of Health to find new ways of working which allow trusts and PCTs to operate independently and with confidence.

 

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