Powerful pair to battle NHS hospital failings

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on two powerful leaders to review NHS hospital management and improve standards of care.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has invited a former M&S boss and a top health chief executive to compile reports on the management of NHS Trusts and hospitals in a bid to pull failing hospitals out of special measures.

In a recent interview, Hunt revealed that former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose and Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton would be spending a year conducting reviews of hospital services to tackle what Hunt describes as his “biggest priority”.

With 14 hospitals currently labelled as ‘failing’ following inspections in the wake of the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal, Hunt said he had a “determined, sustained focused to get them out of special measures” and saw embedding the correct hospital leadership as “the number one priority”.  

Sir Stuart will conduct his review by working with the 14 failing hospitals, attending inspections and mentoring the various leadership teams. Credited with turning around the fortunes of M&S, Sir Stuart has been described by Hunt as “one of the country’s most inspirational leaders” and hopes he will bring an outside perspective to the leadership issues across the NHS.

Meanwhile Sir David, chief executive of Royal Salford Foundation Trust, will be assessing the viability of creating a ‘buddy’ system to encourage hospitals and trusts to work in larger groups, allowing failing hospitals to be supported by those with a better track record.

 “I have an absolute responsibility to make sure people are getting safe, compassionate care in every part of the country” said Hunt, expressing his confidence that “tapping into the leadership skills” of such a powerful pair could prove transformative.

While some have welcomed the move, with Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, commending the new advisors as a “very powerful combination”, others have questioned whether the skills of a retail boss will prove useful to the health service and its complicated issues.