The full text of the open letter calling for a change in attitudes towards NHS managers, signed by leading clinicians, patient campaigners and two former health secretaries

As leaders in health and care we know that NHS managers make an essential contribution to the delivery of high quality services to the people of this country.

Skilled managers work long hours in a wide range of specialist roles to help clinicians and other members of the healthcare team care for patients within the challenging context of a complex system with finite resources which is facing ever growing demand.

Some of these managers have a general management, finance, HR or similar background. An increasing number are also being drawn from medical, nursing, midwifery, allied and other healthcare professions, all of whom bring a welcome particular professional expertise and perspective.

In our experience, NHS managers are as dedicated to the service as any other group of staff. We find it regrettable, therefore, that they are so often the subject of ill judged criticism and made scapegoats when concerns arise. This is both unfair and damaging to the interests of patients since successful joint working between managerial and clinical staff is an essential ingredient of good care.

It is especially worrying that ill informed allegations and the use of lazy stereotypes tend to peak at a time of increased public interest in the NHS – such as the period before a general election. Of course the quality of management varies across the service, but such variation is seen in all professional groups in health and care. There is no justification for singling out managers.

Therefore, we call on politicians of all parties to treat managers with the same respect they would accord to other members of the NHS workforce and to acknowledge the essential job they do for patients and the public.

Signed by:

  • Dr Mark Porter, chair of council, British Medical Association
  • Dr Maureen Baker, chair, Royal College of GPs
  • Sir Simon Wessely, President, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Peter Carter, chief executive, Royal College of Nursing
  • Sir Nick Partridge, former chief executive, Terrence Higgins Trust
  • Alan Milburn, former secretary of state for health
  • Stephen Dorrell MP, former secretary of state for health and former chair of the Commons health committee
  • Cathy Warwick, chief executive, Royal College of Midwives
  • Karen Middleton, chief executive, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • Sir Michael Rawlins, former chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
  • Sir John Oldham, chair, Independent Commission on Whole Person Care
  • Dr Clare Gerada, immediate past chair of the Royal College of GPs
  • Paul Farmer, chief executive, Mind
  • Jeremy Taylor, chief executive, National Voices
  • Jon Restell, chief executive, Managers in Partnership
  • Alastair McLellan, editor, HSJ

Please show your support for the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #respect4managers

Healthcare leaders attack 'scapegoating' of managers