Plan offers personnel directors ideal opportunity

HR professionals have a golden opportunity to boost their profile with the Government’s new plan for the NHS but will only succeed if they increase their skills at organisational development.

The message about seizing the chance to get on to trust boards came from outgoing AHHRM president Karen Bell. She complained that only 60 per cent of NHS boards had HR directors and that the trend had been for HR to lose its seat in recent years. But she said the tide was about to turn in favour of the profession.

“There is no better time for us as HR people to take the initiative. Now the NHS is to become performance managed and HR is central to the plan it is essential for us to do well,” said Bell.

“We have a real chance to increase the proportion of HR professionals on boards in the NHS.”

However, Professor Paul Bate issued a warning that HR professionals had so far failed in their role as instigators of culture change, and doctors and nurses were beginning to muscle-in on traditional HR responsibilities.

Bate has been working on a project to change NHS culture at Birmingham University’s health service management centre.

“Some people outside HR such as clinicians are now taking organisational development roles,” said Bate.

He urged HR managers to throw away simplistic guide books on organisational development and focus on cutting bureaucracy and decentralising decision-making.

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