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A questionnaire designed to ensure that job candidates have a healthy balance of personality traits to leaven any “dark side” has been completed by hopefuls for the NHS England chief executive role.

HSJ has seen a briefing document from Russell Reynold Associates - tasked to lead the recruitment process - which says the three candidates have undergone a psychometric assessment comprising three elements in the past week.

The first element involves completing the proprietary Leadership Span “psychometric questionnaire” developed by RRA and Hogan Associates.

Writing in 2017, RRA managing director Peter Lewis said research by the two firms had “uncovered four ‘dark side’ traits that are often associated with short-term positive performance in c-suite leaders; they are bold, mischievous, colourful and imaginative (the ‘charisma cluster’). These characteristics may have helped leaders reach the c-suite, however left unchecked, can cause havoc when they get to the top. When leaders are unaware of the negative consequences of these traits, such as arrogance, risk-taking and manipulation, they will likely overuse them and face career derailment as a result.”

To guard against recruiting leaders who would pose this danger, Mr Lewis explained RRA had developed the Leadership Span questionnaire to evaluate candidates on “their ability to pivot across a variety of major contradicting traits”.

KPMG senior partner Mark Britnell, NHSE deputy CEO Amanda Pritchard, and Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan are the candidates undergoing the complex interview and assessment process which HSJ revealed on 1 July. 

England goes into extra time 

NHS England has only recently started publishing data on two-year waits for elective care; however, the numbers already highlight the long-term strain on hospitals.

Figures published on Tuesday show a 46 per cent increase in patients waiting more than 104 weeks for treatment – rising from 2,597 to 3,802 across April and May this year.

Five trusts contribute to more than half of the total increase, and all of them except University Hospitals Birmingham have a disproportionately high number of two-year waiters.

Coronavirus has put increased pressure on the country’s elective waiting list, which has now hit 5.3 million. The growing pressures have prompted calls from surgeons for the government to invest in surgical hubs to carry out additional procedures.

The Independent Healthcare Providers Network, which represents private hospitals, has called for a “clear plan” from government to outline how patient access to care will be restored.

A statement from the network said there were 200,000 fewer appointments to be delivered in May this year than in the same period in 2019 – a 15 per cent fall in productivity.

The IHPN said: “With the public consistently stating that bringing down waiting lists is their number one priority for the NHS, the time has come for a clear plan from government setting out how the huge care backlog will be tackled.”