10 Big Challenges Facing Leaders In The NHS

Leading in the NHS is certainly not for the faint hearted.  At the same time there are many highly committed and highly talented leaders trying to deal with some big challenges.  So what are some of the biggest challenges facing leaders in the NHS right now?

Challenge #1: Reduced Funding

While the headlines might suggest that funding for healthcare is being protected, cost inflation means that it in real terms the amount is reducing.

Challenge #2: Increasing Demand

There is a big push to encourage people to take steps to reduce the burden on healthcare.  At the same time more prevention and education along with medical advances mean that people are living longer.  Ultimately this creates more demand for services.

Challenge #3: Changing Public Perceptions

The older generation remember the days before the NHS and are grateful for what they receive.  Many others, particularly the younger generation are use to getting what they need, when they need it and almost on demand.  The challenge is to keep up.

Challenge #4: 24 Hour Media

These days with such a wide range of media, something can go viral pretty quickly.  In many ways the level of control is minimal.  You can no longer take the time to consider your response to the press enquiry.

Challenge #5: Fragmented Service Provision

While there are more and more examples of health systems working together, there are still many examples of fragmented provision.

Challenge #6: Loss Of Expertise

In primary care we are seeing a third major reorganisation in the last 10 years.  Each time there is structural change happens, expertise is lost.

Challenge #7: A Lot Of Experts But Not Necessarily Breadth Of Experience

One of the great strengths of the NHS is that people really know their areas and professions.  On the other hand they may not have the breadth of experience outside of the organisation they work in.

Challenge #8: Fixed Ideas Or Opinions

This is not just an issue in terms of staff but also in terms of service users too.  Many associate health provision with hospitals even though the vast majority of the time services are outside of hospital.

Challenge #9: The Instant Results Mentality

I read once that Chief Executives have less than 2 years to demonstrate that they are making significant progress or they are gone.  This creates a huge amount of pressure and does not encourage engagement.

Challenge #10: Initiative Overload

The reality is that any team of leaders, no matter how good they are can only focus on a few significant things at any one point in time.  Selecting the things that will have the biggest impact is not easy.

What else would you add to the list of challenges?

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