'Research has already been done demonstrating that there is a basket of measures which together produce better staff morale and motivation, lower absence and, most importantly, better patient care'

I have started a new job recently and it has been a very warm welcome from my new colleagues and team.

This made me think about the way the NHS markets itself to potential employees and how it treats them once they have started - resulting in them either staying for just a short while, or never leaving the health service.

The other related theme been occupying my mind is the level of unplanned absence from the workforce such as sickness and carers' leave. Given that the this regularly exceeds other industries, we have to ask why. Common sense would dictate that the level of domestic emergencies must be broadly the same as similar public sector industries and the most common causes of sickness in the NHS are the same as elsewhere.

So why do we not seem able to get this right and what sort practical things can be done about it? This is not a simple problem but the solution rests in a variety of simple measures.

The good news is that the research has already been done demonstrating that there is a basket of measures which together produce better staff morale and motivation, lower absence and, most importantly, better patient care.

The measures should come as no surprise to any manager in the NHS. They include issues such as a proper appraisal, dealing with staff fairly, giving praise and recognition, and encouraging and building teams.

So we know the problems and the answers. All that remains is to consistently put it into practice. Evidence suggests this is not happening.

We know from research that some 60-70 per cent of ex-employees cite their managers as the reason they left. This should fire us all into action. Why is good people management not happening routinely?

I believe there is a simple truth here that needs to be brought out into the open. Many years of working with managers have shown me the same thing time and again. Some people can do it, others can't.

Just as I could never do what a surgeon or psychiatrist does, some people simply do not have the aptitude to be a successful manager. We should examine whether we have left people in charge of staff for too long when they are not delivering the required results.

Just as there is a clamour to examine consultant productivity, we should also examine the productivity of other staff groups and roles - including the role of anyone entrusted to manage staff.

Effective management is amazing. It can inspire and enthuse people, reduce absence, create followers and produce effective results - in the case of the health service, this means excellent patient care and is found in stable, viable organisations of high repute.

There is no doubt people want to join and stay with an organisation where this type of environment exists.

The fruits of labour in the form of lower absence, lower cost and better staff satisfaction will come once staff believe the NHS is serious about this issue. Those fruits are well worth working for.