• Matt Hancock says he wants to challenge the workforce culture in the NHS
  • Wants to break down tribal barriers between managers and clinicians
  • Mr Hancock said he would back managers to manage in a modern way

Tribal barriers between clinicians and managers should be broken down, the new health secretary Matt Hancock has said today.

Delivering his first speech to NHS staff this morning Mr Hancock said it was time to “back managers to manage in a dynamic and modern way”. He said he wanted better leadership training and better incentives to encourage clinical staff to take on leadership roles.

He told the audience of staff at West Suffolk Foundation Trust he wanted to see “breaking down tribal barriers between managers and clinicians”. 

He also said he wanted a cultural change for staff, with “fewer hierarchical outdated rules”.

Mr Hancock, who was promoted to health secretary 10 days ago, lavished praise on the NHS workforce, declaring he “loved the NHS” and was grateful for it saving his sister’s life in 2016.

But while promising to support staff he warned: “I will also challenge you too. We all know there are parts of the working culture in the NHS that needs to change. Less of a division between managers and clinical staff, because we are one team; less of a division between community health services and social care, because we are one team.

“A culture of mutual respect where everyone is valued for what they contribute. Fewer hierarchical outdated rules.

“I want to do drive this culture change.”

On managers he said: “Let’s talk about managers. Managers are crucial staff, but attract less attention, but are a vital component of well run health and care organisations large or small. It matters to clinical staff that their managers are good because everybody has their part to play.

“Too often getting the right people into these roles has been a struggle and I know some people in management can feel overlooked or undervalued. So we need to back our managers to manage in a dynamic and modern way.”

He said improving management would also mean taking in expertise from outside the NHS.