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Feeling the burn?

The HSJ caught my attention this morning with the breaking news that Sir Robert Naylor is to leave UCLH next March after 15 years at the helm. 

The summer of 2015 has seen a lot of movement among NHS board members with over 11 new leaders taking up CEO posts across the country. This number is further complemented by new chief executives being announced and joining trusts later this year. In addition we have new improvement directors, directors of finance and other senior leaders joining trusts to turnaround performance and examine the financial situation which is forecasted to be a £2.1bn deficit in the acute sector for 2015/16. Interestingly, many of these positions are being taken up as interim posts. 

Looking back at HSJ’s 2015 Top Chief Executives report, a third of the chief executives in the list were new entries, including Cambridge University Hospital FT’s Keith McNeil and Imperial College Healthcare Trust’s Tracey Batten. 

Please click here to see the movers and shakers that I have noticed over the summer. I am sure there are more, and I’d be happy to hear from you if I have missed you off my list!  

It’s safe to say that the NHS interim market is still flourishing. With the continued challenges and lack of succession planning in many trusts it’s no wonder interim resource is heavily relied upon at a senior level. Interim Partners have experienced an eventful summer and we feel this is the beginning of a busy autumn for NHS interims. 

However, could better talent management be another solution to assisting the NHS and its performance? Talent management and succession planning is no new issue for the NHS, many trusts are facing a talent crisis. Unlike other sectors, the NHS seems to struggle to ensure a pipeline of talent is ready and willing to take up senior management roles. Nicky Hill, director of human resources for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, writes about the importance of talent management and why the pressure is on to develop staff from within


It’s a difficult job

Leadership roles within the NHS are not for the faint hearted or the ‘nine-to-fivers’. The NHS is a challenging environment for any leader and it is likely to get even harder. CEOs are subject to scrutiny on a daily basis from a wide range of stakeholders, including the press and the public. UCLH’s long-serving chief executive said the role of a CEO is “far more difficult” now than it used to be.  According to Sir Robert, it’s because of “successive reorganisations”: 

“The system has built layer upon layer of bureaucracy and it’s become so labyrinthine that you have to be an expert guide to find your way around the system. Often it’s who you know and who your contacts are. I always encourage new chief executives to invest in networking because sooner or later you’re going to need your supporters.”

On the 16th September, I am attending the Robert Naylor and Roy Lilley Health Chat. I am particularly looking forward to hearing about the whole future of secondary care, where the Vanguards fit, whether big hospitals are sustainable and how the money challenge can be met. 


Are Interims a solution? 

Nearly every acute trust in the UK has or has in the past hired an interim in their leadership team. It brings some questions to mind. What is the average tenure of an NHS CEO? Is it still 4-5 years or has the landscape changed? Where do ex CEOs go? How many re-enter NHS organisations as interims? Which NHS Trust has had the most CEOs, be it interim or substantive? 

On a different note, many interims have helped trusts come out of special measures, improved failing targets and reduced deficits by focusing on outcomes. Here is a recent example of a successful case study. 

At Interim Partners, we can measure the value outcome of interim resource utilised using our proprietary Return on Interim (ROI) tool which I believe is a key differentiator between Interim Partners and other interim management providers. 


Claire Carter is the Principal of Healthcare at Interim Partners. 

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