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Think-tank detects worrying level of senior vacancies in NHS

How can shortage of NHS executives be addressed?


A ‘near-toxic mix of pressures’ and ‘a culture of blaming individual leaders for failures beyond their control’ is causing significant shortages in top leadership roles in the NHS, says a report by the King’s Fund and NHS Providers.


Leadership in today’s NHS: delivering the impossible reveals executive director vacancies are widespread with 8% of posts being vacant. More than a third of trusts have at least one vacancy, with director of operations, finance and strategy roles worst affected and with short tenures.


Short tenure is a major concern, says the report, often leading to short-term decision making and paralysis of organisations at a time when they should be moving forward finding new ways of delivering care.


Higher levels of vacancies and turnover rates were suffered by trusts rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission, with 14% of posts vacant and 72% of executives appointed in 2017.


The report says national bodies must do more to recruit and retain executive staff by looking at the environment NHS leaders operate in, treating them more humanely and making it clearer what ‘good’ looks like.


Further information

King’s Fund:  Leadership in today’s NHS: delivering the impossible

King’s Fund:  NHS trusts face worryingly high levels of senior vacancies

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