In my career as an NHS manager the times I enjoyed most and the times we achieved most was when I worked as manager in a close partnership with a senior doctor. As managers, whether we like it or not, we have to accept doctors have far more credibility with patients and politicians than managers ever will. I see that as a great opportunity for managers.
In my career I used to get on with the detail of day to day management and I left the leadership and 'spotlight role' as the realm of the doctor. Tactically as a manager I unashamedly ‘used’ the doctor to get over a point in any difficult argument with his peer doctors who may be resisting change. Doctors can sell a new concept to their peers far better than a manager and I was always comfortable keeping my head down leaving all that 'stuff' to the doctor.
It was also brilliant to have the support of the doctor in arguments with my own bosses which happened quite a lot. Managers in the NHS still have great respect for doctors and the more senior the doctor the more respect it seems. I used what I call the ‘credibility card’ often.
There have always been arguments about the role of doctors in management in the NHS and my view is clear. The doctors who make a positive decision to ‘do management’ make far better leaders than traditional NHS managers.
It is therefore very interesting to me that Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, just down the road from us in Solihull, recently won an award as the best hospital in the UK. Click here for details.
Why is this interesting? - Because the Chief Executive and his Deputy are both Senior Doctors.
Of course all academic researchers will tell me this does not prove anything but it is interesting don’t you think?