Uneasy relationship between NHS managers and doctors affects patient care

The strained relationship between doctors and NHS managers is affecting patient outcomes, according to research.

The study, led by professor Ian Kirkpatrick of the Leeds University Business School, found that where doctors and managers get along, it led to a more efficient health service, and patient outcomes also improved.

The report of the National Inquiry into Management and Medicine urged NHS organisations to focus on patients and their treatment and care. It said the NHS should refocus its way of working and suggested that managers and doctors should be more aware of each other’s role.

Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents more than 95% of NHS organisations, said: “We know that the best outcomes for patients are achieved when managers and doctors work closely together.

She told Personnel Today: “In successful organisations tensions are discussed and are understood as being legitimate differences in perspective. But unless both groups – doctors and managers – understand the tension that exists, there can be unhelpful relationships and stereotypes.”

NHS Employers is responsible for workforce and employment issues, working on behalf of NHS organisations in the UK. Sian Thomas, deputy director, said the group was working with trusts to help employers implement leading edge practice in improving productivity.

“This will bring the areas of patient safety and clinical effectiveness and quality into the productivity arena. These issues are not in conflict but should be one and the same goal. Organisations that are generally productive are also providing high quality and safe care,” she concluded.

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