As well as damaging the reputation of the NHS as a whole, the scandal of Mid Staffordshire foundation trust’s emergency services has piled more opprobrium on the reputation of NHS managers.
The investigation has engulfed the entire panoply of healthcare bodies. As well as the hospital itself, primary care trusts, the strategic health authority, Monitor and the Healthcare Commission all face questions. Monitor, for example, has already tightened its application procedures.
At times like this it can be hard for managers to keep the faith. It is understandable for people to feel anger and shock towards those who oversaw a system where untrained receptionists were triaging accident and emergency patients. But such sentiments can all too easily spill over into a more general - and unjustified - anti-manager diatribe.
The words are spat out on newspaper comment boards such as the Daily Mail website - calling for slashed wages, sackings and imprisonment.
In a vignette illustrating the lack of esteem for NHS managers in the community, HSJ features editor Emma Dent this week recounts a conversation with a manager who is about to become a doctor. He tells her at least he will now feel able to talk about his job.
But all the work that the NHS has been doing to drive up quality has not been in vain. Headlines hurt, but most managers know - in their hearts as well as their heads - that they are doing a good job.
Management needs to be redefined as part of the caring service. Every manifestation of what managers do needs to be seen through that lens and expressed through those sentiments. Every job title, every explanation of a manager’s role, every press statement must position managers as part of the care system, not as a group of target driven bureaucrats trying to subvert it.
Mid Staffordshire crisis: quality of care sacrificed in FT bid
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Managers must fight to win back the trust of the public