The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The terms and conditions of the Messenger review of NHS leadership have been published following a seven-week wait since their announcement, and ran to just 200 words.

Flagged as being the “most far-reaching review” of NHS leadership since the seminal Griffiths reforms of the 1980s, it  will examine the “pay and incentives” offered to the service’s most senior figures, as well as at “effective systems for intervention and recovery in both providers and integrated care systems”.

The T&Cs state the review will be delivered to the health secretary “after four months and will be followed by a delivery plan with clear timelines on implementing agreed recommendations”.

The terms confirm the review will be led by General Sir Gordon Messenger, former vice chief of the defence staff. He will be supported by Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust chair Dame Linda Pollard.

General Messenger and Dame Linda also published an open letter to the service about the review. 

They wrote: “We are mindful of the strain that you are working under, no more so than at present. Conscious of the potential for ‘review fatigue’, we will do all we can to avoid adding to that pressure during both the engagement and the implementation phases of our work.”

The review will not examine leadership in NHS England and other arm’s length bodies, as many senior NHS figures had requested.

Getting personal 

The first major development plan for the health service’s HR and organisational development functions for more than a decade has outlined a 10-year strategy, with 35 actions relating to how the NHS’ people profession can work differently. 

NHS leaders, staff and HR professionals expressed a wide range of reservations during the consultation process earlier this year, but these were only revealed in an appendix to the plan.

These included concerns there was “no consistent approach” to applying professional HR standards and competencies within the service, and “no universal expectation or standard” for leaders and line managers in the NHS.

The research revealed the belief that: “There are few consequences for line managers and leaders who do not fulfil their people responsibilities.”

NHSE has now pledged to work, alongside others, to develop “dynamic” professional standards for the health service’s people profession, as well as to create a development “curriculum” by 2023.

It will develop the infrastructure to support the plan’s implementation by establishing a national people profession development board with “strong links” to the country’s regional people boards, also by 2023.