The King’s Fund response to review of leadership in health and care

This content relates to the following topics:

  • Leadership, systems and organisations

Commenting on the newly published review of health and care leadership, Suzie Bailey, Director of Leadership and Organisational Development at The King’s Fund, said:

‘At a time when many services feel close to breaking point, this review makes clear that collaborative and inclusive leadership is key to successfully delivering good-quality care. However, the elephant in the room is the deep workforce crisis that long pre-dates the pandemic and that government has been reluctant to face up to. Health and care leaders can – and will – work hard to support their staff and get the most out of the resources available, but there is a limit to what a leader can do when faced with an exhausted workforce and chronic staff shortages.

‘The review does include helpful recommendations such as greater support for managers and leaders at induction and a stronger focus on good appraisals to support staff. If implemented, these measures will help improve the working culture of health and care services. The recommendations to increase diversity among health and care leaders are especially welcome. For too long, NHS and social care boards have not represented the diversity of the communities they serve.

‘From increased demand for care, to huge treatment backlogs, health and care leaders are under immense pressure, all at a time when one-third of NHS employees report feeling burnt out because of their work [1]. These challenges have often been compounded by relentless demands and pressure from politicians and national bodies. Leaders at the national level should also consider how they too can live up to the ambition of compassionate and inclusive leadership.

‘The review offers little in the way of recommendations for social care, a sector that employs 1.2 million people, which is also struggling with huge recruitment and retention issues that warrant a dedicated review.’

Notes to editors

 For interview requests, please contact The King’s Fund press office on 07584 146035 (out of hours) or mediaoffice@kingsfund.org.uk 

1.    The latest NHS Staff Survey found that 34% of respondents said they feel burnt out because of their work: https://www.nhsstaffsurveys.com/ 
2.    In February this year, The King’s Fund published ‘What is compassionate leadership?’, an explainer looking at the four behaviors of compassionate leadership: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/what-is-compassionate-leadership 
3.    The Messenger Review follows several other reviews into NHS leadership in recent years. The King’s Fund has compiled a timeline of health and care leadership developments in England: https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/audio-video/health-and-care-leadership-england-timeline 

For further information, or to request an interview, please contact the Press and Public Affairs team on 020 7307 2585 (if calling out of hours, please ring 07584 146035).

The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible health and care is available to all.