News release: Never mind the billions...NHS Managers haven't got a clue what to do

Media and Promotion Office (2001) News release: Never mind the billions...NHS Managers haven't got a clue what to do. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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A NEW book predicts that much of New Labour's promised new billions of
pounds of taxpayers' money for the NHS will be wasted unless a generation of
'control freak' and 'megalomaniac' managers change their ways.
The book (Managing Public Services- Implementing Changes-A Thoughtful
Approach to Management" reveals how performance indicators are rigged to
prove that standards are improving.
Even though patients know they are waiting longer and longer for treatment,
statistics can 'prove' them liars.
Similar m~nagement sleight of hand blights other public services, including the
teaching profession, the railways and the police force, claims Terry Horne, a
researcher and academic at the Lancashire Business School of the University of
Central Lancashire who co-wrote the book with fellow academic Tony Doherty
from St Martin's College, Lancaster.
"Without changes in the practice of management, much of the extra spending
promised for the NHS will be a waste of public money," he claimed.
"We found millions unspent by health managers because they are not trained
how to manage large scale improvement projects.
''In the last 12 months, an eight percent increase in spending was associated with
a decrease in the numbers of patients treated. A ten per cent increase in the
number of doctors in Accident & Emergency has been associated with an
increase in the number of casualties who had to wait more than an hour. Hardly
the improvement in the health service which Tony Blair promised to deliver."
Home and Doherty, who took five years to research and write the book, blamed
a generation of ' control freak' and 'megalomaniac' senior managers for failing to
improve public services.
Terry Home said senior managers often wrongly use old-fashioned faddish
management techniques- long ago abandoned by the private sector - to meet
bogus 'performance' targets and to keep their own jobs secure.
"Waiting lists are often reduced simply by not putting patients on those lists
until they are about to be treated," he said.
"So the reduced lists 'prove' things are getting better but the reality is just the
Mr Home claimed the NHS could start improving services by training managers
how to adapt their practice of management to the special needs of the public
''When we went into an organisation and changed the management practice - by
encouraging managers to talk to their staff and adopt a more thoughtful and
conversational approach- services started to improve.
''Public service managers need a different practice of management from those
who manage factories. We are not arguing that we should not spend more money
on the NHS but that money alone is not going to work. The politicians know the
NHS is not working, the public know it is not working.
"More than 70 per cent of the resources are in the NHS are people. If the
managers in charge would manage their people as individuals instead of in
groups, it would work much better. It is not rocket science. It just needs a shift
from theoretical management to practical management. Managers who practice
a more conversational approach are more economical, more efficient, more
effective and, importantly, more ethical- important given current concerns
about sleaze, spin and corruption."
The authors claims that colleges and universities can lead the way by re-training
public services managers to adopt more appropriate management techniques
and that if this happened the situation in the NHS would improve very quickly.
Notes to editors:
• Terry Horne and Tony Doherty are available for interview. Please contact
Alan Air on Tel: 07974 765870 for further information.
• Terry Horne led Masters programmes in Strategic Change and leads the
MBA Change Management pathway at Lancashire Business School,
University of Central Lancashire. He is co-author with Simon Wootton of
'Strategic Thinking' and 'Thinking Skills for Managers.'
• Tony Doherty is Director of StMartin's College Business and Community
Enterprise Unit.
• Managing Public Services - Implementing Changes - A Thoughtful
Approach to the Practice of Management is published by Routledge, price
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