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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Managing the NHS

29th January 2009

Stephen Eames, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington foundation trust, on managing the NHS.


A significant chunk of my Christmas break was spent dealing with "here and now" issues such as handling winter pressures while also reflecting on the harsh year we all face.

Getting day to day essentials right is the first test of a credible leadership but doing the "here and now" well is never enough. The effective leader also has to steer a course into the future.

So, what does this year ahead hold?

Dealing with the impact of the credit crunch is going to be the biggest single issue and the next comprehensive spending review "won’t be pretty."

Boards should prepare for the efficiency savings required to deliver the health service's contribution toward bolstering the wider economic environment: minimise waste, reduce management costs and other corporate overheads, reduce staff costs, constrain pay, dispose of surplus assets and use estate efficiently.

Yet this has to be done while still offering a high quality service to patients with the same resources.

But the above measures will not be enough.

The route to long term success has to lie in the ability of commissioning and provider organisations to transform how services are delivered and developed.

This will require visionary clinical leadership, wiping away artificial organisational boundaries by remodelling services on patient pathways, integrating primary and secondary care services and focusing on improving quality by minimising waste and reducing errors.

Retaining customer focus and not losing sight of the bigger picture will be critical as the public sector comes under greater media scrutiny.


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