The former NHS Confederation chief executive Nigel Edwards writes an exclusive opinion piece for HSJ this week on the value of managers in the NHS.

A week before he steps down as director of policy at the Confederation, a role he has held for 12 years, Mr Edwards writes that the NHS has been in a state of “constant reform” during his time there, including two reforms billed as “once in a generation” opportunities to change the NHS.

But few policies, he says, make real the aim of putting patients at the centre of healthcare.

He writes that: “A key lesson is having some clear principles for reform, supporting evidence, a strong narrative about why it is needed and how it will work and that allowing evolution and experiment generally works better than ‘intelligent design’ and the one-off creation of policy.

“The conclusion I came to some time ago is that the best thing for organisations to do is to focus on doing the right thing.”

Read Nigel Edwards’s exclusive piece in full. An edited version appears in the print edition of this week’s HSJ magazine.

Mr Edwards’s piece is published ahead of the annual NHS Confed conference, taking place in Manchester 6-8 July.

HSJ will be reporting on the biggest stories from Confed 2011.

  • On Wednesday 6 July, Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar will open the conference alongside chair Sir Keith Pearson.
  • On Thursday, Department of Health managing director for commissioning development Dame Barbara Hakin and Future Forum chief Steve Field lead a panel debate discussing the NHS “after the pause”.
  • Health secretary Andrew Lansley closes the conference on Thursday with his address.
  • On Friday morning, House of Commons health committee chair Stephen Dorrell joins a panel debate “Navigating the Health Reforms: what will happen next?”, before addresses by Nigel Edwards and NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson close the event for 2011.

HSJ will have the latest news and analysis from all these events and more, as it happens, on