The NHS needs to build more clinical leadership to drive improvement in productivity and quality, according to research from McKinsey that also found gaps in current management performances in acute care.

The management consulting firm said that NHS acute providers lag behind the manufacturing industry and private health sector in lean management, performance management and talent management.

Scores for lean management were 14 per cent lower than in small UK manufacturing businesses, 21 per cent lower for performance management and 30 per cent for talent management - and the gaps for all categories were even larger against large UK manufacturing.

Against the private healthcare industry, the gaps were 20 per cent, 66 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

McKinsey partner Ben Richardson said the outcome of the research for talent management in particular was a 'significant and worrying result'.

The consultancy carried out interviews with 170 general managers and clinical leaders in 104 acute trusts.

The conclusions of the research were:

  • clinical leadership drives overall productivity and quality;
  • performance management needs to be moved from top down to a balanced set of goals influenced by the whole organisation and that inspire clinicians;
  • there are structural problems in talent management;
  • embedding true clinical leadership requires significant change and capability building.