This year will see a ‘generational shift’ in senior NHS management with the rise of a ‘new cadre’ of leaders able to see beyond the interests of single institutions, the NHS England chief executive has said.

In a wide ranging interview with HSJ, Simon Stevens said that meeting operational and financial challenges would sometimes require “action beyond the individual institution”.

Samantha Jones

Samantha Jones is someone the NHS must ‘give space to and help lead’, Simon Stevens said

Mr Stevens said: “I think 2015-16 is going to be a year when across the health service we see in many places a new cadre of leaders step up… so I think this is going to be year of generational shift, and passing of the batons to a new group of leaders.”

While trust chief executives must continue to be able to tackle clinical variations, patient flows and productivity within their hospitals, the NHS will increasingly need leaders with a broader way of working.

He said: “The ability to engage, motivate, work with a broader range of stakeholders in your local health system means that a focus purely on ‘my institution right or wrong’ is not going to be what’s required.

“We’ve got a lot of trust chief executives, and in some places chief operating officers, that will step into these roles. Sometimes [they will currently be working] in more medium sized organisations.”

He pointed to the appointment of former West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust chief executive Samantha Jones last month, to run NHS England’s programme to develop new care models, as an illustration of the type of figure who “we have got to now give space to and help lead”.

He argued that some GP leaders were approaching “the zone of high effectiveness” after nearly two years in charge of clinical commissioning groups, while NHS England’s leadership programme was also now producing capable people.