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More managers improves NHS efficiency, report finds

Having more managers at NHS trusts has been linked with better performance.

Having more managers at NHS trusts has been linked with better performance

Against expectations, an analysis of six years of NHS data from 150 acute hospital trust in England, between 2007 and 2012, revealed managers can have a significant impact on performance in areas such as infection control, patient experience and efficiency.

The research was conducted by Warwick Business School's Ian Kirkpatrick, University of Bristol's Gianluca Veronesi and University of Leeds' Ali Altanlar.

Professor Kirkpatrick said: 'Contrary to what many policymakers and media commentators would have us believe, our research suggests the NHS is not "over-managed" and managers, as a group, are making significant contributions to efficiency and improved patient care.

'The evidence shows, overall, the positive contributions of general managers appear to be greater than the costs and

Having more managers at NHS trusts has been linked with better performance


Managers can have a significant impact on staff performance, analysis finds. Picture: iStock

Against expectations, an analysis of six years of NHS data from 150 acute hospital trust in England, between 2007 and 2012, revealed managers can have a significant impact on performance in areas such as infection control, patient experience and efficiency.

The research was conducted by Warwick Business School's Ian Kirkpatrick, University of Bristol's Gianluca Veronesi and University of Leeds' Ali Altanlar.

Professor Kirkpatrick said: 'Contrary to what many policymakers and media commentators would have us believe, our research suggests the NHS is not "over-managed" and managers, as a group, are making significant contributions to efficiency and improved patient care.

'The evidence shows, overall, the positive contributions of general managers appear to be greater than the costs and risks associated with ineffective management.

'This, we believe, is an important finding, and one which should not be ignored as the NHS gears up to deal with the very considerable funding and organisational challenges that lie ahead.'

Higher trust rates

The research found that by employing 39 more managers in the average trust, the effect was a 3% improvement in trust efficiency and 2% improvement in patient satisfaction scores.

The researchers suggested the number of managers in the NHS was 'relatively few in number' compared with private business and yet they 'are making a significant contribution to the performance of health services'.

RCN head of employment relations Josie Irwin welcomed the report: 'Sometimes we get into management bashing, which isn't always helpful because good, quality management and exceptional leadership are the things which help the NHS work efficiently.

'The study findings are commons sense.'

She said people on higher wages could sometimes be targeted with 'quite abusive' language and it was often for 'puerile' reasons.

'Fair and better treatment'

Ms Irwin said the NHS recruitment crisis, including 40,000 nurse vacancies in England, were not going to fixed by the 'sacking of a few managers' and said the current funding problems were a 'political choice'.

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said: 'These findings show that all NHS staff, whatever their job, play an important role in delivering quality patient care.

'Managers are a vital part of the healthcare team and patients fair far better in trusts that are run well.'


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