Medicine 2019: Matt Hancock calls for more female leaders in the NHS

Matt Hancock MP, UK secretary of state for health and social care, delivered a speech entitled ‘My vision for the NHS’ as part of the afternoon plenary on the first day of Medicine 2019.

During the speech, Mr Hancock called for a change in the working culture in the health service, citing the statistic that one in 11 NHS staff leave the health service each year:

[That’s] more than 100,000 every year. It’s something we urgently need to address. I believe a large number leave because we’ve not done enough to make the NHS a great place to work.

Yes, it’s about the resources available and that’s important. Yes, it’s about formal terms and conditions and what’s in the contract and that’s important. But bigger than that is the working culture and how we treat each other.

Mr Hancock went on to call for the creation of 'a culture that puts flexible working at its heart, and encourages women to stay in the NHS and to progress’, arguing that the 23% gender pay gap serves as ‘a barometer for the health of the NHS overall’.

Talking about how to create such a cultural shift, Mr Hancock outlined three core principles:

  • More support and mentoring to get women into senior leadership, saying ‘we need more female leaders in the NHS.’
  • More flexible working: ‘Less than one in ten NHS workers have access to the most sophisticated digital rotas…All trust must expand digital rotas [because] better technology across can support flexible modern working.’
  • Ending discrimination and creating a more compassionate culture. The health secretary highlighted stories from the #NHSMeToo campaign, and the need to improve diversity in senior and leadership roles, adding: ‘The way we talk to each other, the way we treat one another really matters. Everyone must be valued and supported in the workplace.’

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