Monitor has invited senior foundation trust managers to attend a leadership programme at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Monitor says the academy, which is developing the course specially, is to develop a “mission control” type approach for foundation trusts, “a style of command developed to facilitate leadership in intensely complex, high pressure situations - such as battle - by decentralising command and initiative”.

While parallels between the army and the NHS may at first raise a smile, the intention behind looking to military-style training is quite serious. Managing a trust’s finances, quality and services in the coming financial storm may well feel like a battle to managers and they will want to make sure they are as prepared as possible.

Monitor warns that foundation trust leaders need to overcome their fears, encourage others and know when to “go against the flow” while making decisions, managing risks, and setting themselves stretching goals. Otherwise they risk poor performance, weak communication, missed targets and a culture of mistrust.

Staff at all levels should understand what needs doing and why, and then be given the freedom to decide how best to do it - it is the model for the balance between central and local NHS control taken right to the front line.

The regulator admits the Sandhurst programme may not be for everyone, but it is a call to attention for all NHS managers, at foundation trusts and beyond.

Military training for NHS managers will win frontline battles