News story

More doctors and nurses to become leaders of the future

Health Secretary wants more doctors and nurses to occupy positions at the most senior levels of NHS.

3 young female health professionals completing paperwork

Speaking at the NHS Providers annual conference, the Health Secretary announced new measures to bring in the sharpest graduates and aspiring leaders and turn them into chief executives of the same standard as the best in the NHS and the private sector.

Mr Hunt acknowledged the challenges hospital leaders face, saying that running a hospital is one of the most difficult jobs in Britain today.

As the world’s fifth largest employer, the NHS needs to get better at attracting and retaining the best leaders and at investing in talent in the same way that large private sector companies do.

Measures announced today include:

  • an ambition to recruit up to 1,000 of the UK’s brightest graduates by expanding the NHS graduate scheme
  • working with Britain’s top universities to develop a new NHS-approved Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
  • a fast-track programme for doctors and nurses to become future NHS leaders

Jeremy Hunt said:

Of course it feels harder to build a strong team when frontline pressures are so high – but my argument today is that building that team is the only way to deal with such pressures.

More clinical leadership, fewer glass ceilings, more career progression and more flexible working: these are the changes the NHS needs to see over the next decade if we are to turn warm sentiments about frontline staff into practical improvements that show we truly value their contribution.

Currently only a third of NHS chief executives have a clinical background. Working with world class universities (Yale University this year) the government is creating a new programme to prepare and support doctors and nurses with the highest potential for leadership. The first students will enrol in September 2017. The programmes will be modelled on the successful programme piloted at Harvard University 2 years ago.

He also announced an increase in the number of available places in the NHS graduate scheme, doubling the number next year from 100 to 200, with plans for up to 1,000 places in the future. This would be a much higher number of graduates than companies such as HSBC and BAE Systems currently take on each year (source: The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2016-17).

The Health Secretary has asked the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management to look at whether there are any existing issues that stop clinicians transferring into management and what can be done to encourage clinicians to see a role in management as beneficial to their career.

Published 30 November 2016