The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.
- Today’s mental health briefing: Will the new funding package spell the end of parity?
- Today’s pandemic insight: Why preparing for the worst kept our patients and staff safe
The extent to which NHS leaders are “visible” in their organisations can be a contentious subject.
When the Care Quality Commission rated University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay as “inadequate” in the well-led domain recently, the judgement seemed to exclude the trust’s chief executive, Aaron Cummins, who was singled out for his “visibility” on the wards.
Several HSJ readers took issue with this, with one commenting: “I was always under the impression that chief executives were accountable officers responsible for the running of the whole organisation.
“I would be extremely concerned about an organisation where people thought that the chief exec was a good chap, but the rest of the execs were rubbish.”
There may be some truth to that, but is there also something to be said for knowing and understanding your frontline staff?
Karen Partington, who has this month retired from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, thinks it is “critical”.
She began her career as a nurse and continued doing monthly shifts as a healthcare assistant and other frontline jobs throughout her decade-long leadership of the trust.
She said in an interview: “How can CEOs be compassionate leaders without understanding the daily pressures faced by the whole team?”
Will they, won’t they?
HSJ has reported the fury of some leaders in the mental health sector who are angry at the government and its apparent failure to recognise mental health needs in its latest NHS settlement.
Word on the streets was the £6.5bn funding uplift promised to the NHS would not be enough to cover any mental health need. In fact, sources suggested it would only cover the acute elective budget.
Leaders seemed up for a fight. However, after Sajid Javid was challenged in the Commons by health select committee chair Jeremy Hunt, the new health secretary said a share of the new funding would “absolutely” go to mental health.
Mr Javid, of course didn’t give any figures or any details and the Department for Health and Social Care previously ignored questions from HSJ on whether mental health was due to get a slice of the pie.
With the health secretary saying on record that he’ll uphold parity of esteem, no doubt those sector leaders will hold his feet to the fire.