From the TUC

#respect4managers – Debunking the myths about NHS managers

16 Apr 2015, by Guest in Public services

In the leadership debate two weeks ago, David Cameron described NHS managers as ‘bureaucrats with clipboards’. He boasted that he’d got rid of 20,000 such managers in England and that somehow this had created more jobs for doctors and nurses. Well yes, they got rid of the managers, in the most disastrous and expensive re-disorganisation in the history of the NHS. But no, it didn’t create any more jobs for doctors or nurses. And in fact it increased the burden on them as they have to pick up more managerial tasks.

As the election campaign gets into full swing, we expect more of these lazy myths about managers to surface. But MiP is not going to put up with it: we’ve launched our campaign for respect for managers speaking up for managers during the election campaign and in the tough times that will follow. We will call politicians to account every time they slip into manager-bashing clichés. We’ve teamed up with the Health Service Journal to produce our HSJ-MiP management mythbuster debunking the five big myths about NHS managers – about their role, numbers, visibility, accountability and pay.

I love speaking up for NHS managers because I respect and admire managers who work as hard as anyone to keep the NHS show on the road. People who protect patients, nurture staff and make resources stretch as far as they can. People who believe the NHS should provide universal healthcare, free at the point of need. People who know the system, how the different parts fit together and how to change things when it’s really necessary.

An NHS without expert, specialist managers would not be the NHS. Take away the manager and clinicians will struggle to do their jobs – and will certainly be less efficient. Take away the manager and it becomes impossible to reconfigure health services to meet growing demand and higher quality standards in the face of financial constraints. Take away the manager and patients will find it more difficult to navigate the complex health system and get services designed to meet their needs.

So the survival of the NHS is dependent on managers as well as the rest of the healthcare team. Our respect for managers campaign drives this message home, and we hope others will use the HSJ-MiP management mythbuster and our briefing on NHS managers and the general election to challenge head-on the myths and stereotypes about NHS managers and what they do.