The report presents findings from The King's Fund's 2013 leadership survey. It also highlights the lessons that can be learnt from the experiences of high-performing health care organisations in other countries that have succeeded in developing effective leadership and a culture that puts patients' needs first.
- The leadership of the NHS at a national level needs to create conditions in which local organisations have the freedom to deliver consistently high standards of care and where the needs of patients come first.
- The quality of care provided by NHS organisations should, first and foremost, be a corporate responsibility under the leadership of boards, who must lead by example by focusing on the quality and safety of care.
- Leaders need to value and support frontline staff and ensure the main focus is on patients and their care.
- Leadership development should give priority to supporting leaders at all levels to be patient-centred and to ensure that staff have the time and resources required to deliver high-quality care.
- Patient leaders should work alongside NHS leaders to support the transformation called for in the Francis Inquiry report.
The NHS at national level must shift the predominant organisational culture from one focused on meeting externally imposed standards and targets to one in which NHS leaders and frontline clinical teams are committed to improving care and putting patients' needs first, working together to access the support they need to do so.
NHS organisations must abandon the traditional individualistic model of leadership and embrace a leadership style that is shared, distributed and adaptive. Board members in particular are responsible for setting the tone for their organisational culture, and should do more to actively seek and listen to the views of patients, governors, commissioners and staff.