Ministers are due to back a report today calling for a leadership drive to create managers with 'the skills to work in the collaborative and involving way which the health service of the future will require'.
Health secretary Frank Dobson and health minister John Denham are due to launch the report of the taskforce on staff involvement in London and Portsmouth and to say that the government welcomes its general direction.
An action plan to carry out the recommendations is expected in the autumn.
As predicted in HSJ (news, 13 May), the report says that 'without good leadership and a bedrock of effective industrial relations, long-term cultural change cannot happen.'
It says staff involvement should become 'the way of life for everybody and everything in the NHS'. NHS human resources director Hugh Taylor, who chaired the taskforce, said it was a long-term agenda that would be challenging for some trusts.
'There are no easy solutions which is why the taskforce places such a strong focus on leadership as being a critical factor,' he said.
He argued that the NHS Executive was already taking action on the principles advocated by the taskforce through its development plan and change management programme.
Unison head of health Bob Abberley, a member of the task force, said the report was 'a tangible demonstration that the government does want to change the culture of the NHS to one where staff are seen as part of the solution to the problems, rather than a problem themselves'.
He said the report was 'mould breaking' because its recommendations applied to contractors as well as NHS staff.
NHS Confederation chair of human resources Andrew Foster, another member of the taskforce, said the report was the 'foundation stone for the new culture change we are trying to foster throughout the NHS'.