IHM chief executive Stuart Marples this week urged managers to put aside 'command and control' management and adopt a 'new credo in which they would be guides' to develop their staff.

Mr Marples said that he would be urging managers to adopt continuous professional development and a new code of conduct.

He admitted this might not always be popular when there were other people prepared to attack NHS managers. But he said it was vital if managers were to show they were as well qualified and cared as much for patients as other NHS professionals.

The IHM has developed the new code of conduct and members will be asked to adhere to it voluntarily over the coming year. The code is likely to become mandatory from next year's conference.

Mr Marples called for a no-blame culture in which people were able to learn from their mistakes and in which error was not driven underground.

'Patients need you, 'he said. 'We must dispel the myth there are others who care more or better. '

'This is not about the protection of poor management. Healthcare management is rooted in the desire to do the best for the patients. That is why managers work the long hours, tackle the seemingly endless workload and the constant agenda of change. '