The panel of judges who will choose the HSJ100 later this year were tasked with thinking about the voices that go unheard by the NHS establishment but from whom there is much to learn, writes David Hancock

Whoever takes over from Sir Simon Stevens as NHS chief executive in August will face an unparalleled task. The NHS has survived the pandemic, led a phenomenally successful vaccination campaign but now has a mountain to climb, with nearly 5 million patients waiting for treatment.

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Who the new chief executive listens to as he or she develops plans to tackle this, while also embedding new ways of working trialled during the pandemic, and preparing for what could be a difficult winter, will be crucial.

Many people will have easy access to the chief executive’s ear but there are many voices who won’t. There is often much to learn from these diverse voices, including patients, staff and other groups who interact with the NHS.

The panel of judges who will pick the HSJ 100 – the people with the most power and influence in the NHS – later in the year were tasked with thinking who were these people whose voices go unheard. They could be patient groups or advocates – but not the ones who would normally get into the chief executive’s office. They might be clinicians operating in a different way or people working in other sectors where there is a “read across” to the NHS. They could even be working in other healthcare systems.

The names which came up may surprise you but there is much to learn from them – including some who might be seen as contrarians, with a very different message from the NHS establishment.

Also read:

The 20 ‘wildcards’ the NHS’s new bosses should listen to

HSJ100: The wildcards

The 20 ‘wildcards’ the NHS’s new bosses should listen to