The King's Fund launches debate on the future of leadership in the NHS

With the NHS facing unprecedented financial pressures and about to undergo radical reform, The King's Fund has launched a new commission to assess the leadership and management needs of the NHS.

Amid much debate about the role of frontline clinicians in running health services and questioning of the need for managers within the NHS, the Commission will evaluate national and international evidence about the current state of leadership and management in the NHS and outline the capabilities needed to meet the challenges of the future.

The Commission will take a broad view, looking at clinical leadership as well as the role of managers, and its scope will encompass leadership at all levels – from the board to the ward. The Commission will be chaired by the Chief Executive of The King's Fund, Professor Chris Ham, and comprises a five-strong membership of senior academics and health professionals.

The Commission will report in Spring 2011 and has launched a call for evidence to kick start a debate and gather information about:

  • the current state of leadership and management in the NHS
  • the leadership and management capabilities the NHS will need in the future
  • how current capabilities can be strengthened to meet these needs.

Professor Chris Ham said:

'The NHS spends more than £105 billion of public money each year and employs around one and a half million people. It needs strong and effective leaders, especially during a time of great change and as it faces the biggest financial challenge in its history.

'NHS managers have come in for a good deal of criticism recently. This Commission will aim to move beyond the polarised and divisive rhetoric which sets up managers and clinicians in opposition to each other, to facilitate a debate about the leadership and management the NHS will need in future.'

Find out more about our Commission on Leadership and Management in the NHS

Notes to editors: 

For further information or to request an interview, please contact The King’s Fund press and public affairs office on 020 7307 2585. If you are calling out-of-hours, please ring 07584 146035. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 020 7637 0185.

The Commission will be chaired by Professor Chris Ham, Chief Executive, The King’s Fund and the members are:

  • Professor Ross Baker, University of Toronto
  • Dame Jacqueline Docherty, Chief Executive, West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
  • Dr Peter Hockey, Deputy Medical Director, NHS South Central and former Harkness Fellow
  • Lord Tugendhat, Chair, The Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Professor Kieran Walshe, Manchester Business School

Nicholas Timmins, Public Policy Editor of the Financial Times will act as Secretary to the Commission and write the final report. 

The Commissioners launched an open call for evidence on 14 October and have also commissioned analyses of trends in management and of the role of clinical and managerial leaders in improving performance. The call for evidence will close at 5pm on 10 December 2010. The final report will be launched at a conference for NHS managers and leaders in Spring 2011.

The King’s Fund is a charity that seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved. Using that insight, we help to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change. Our work includes research, analysis, leadership development and service improvement. We also offer a wide range of resources to help everyone working in health to share knowledge, learning and ideas.