The Daily Telegraph

Overpaid managers have sapped the NHS of morale and expertise

- Norfolk

SIR – No one who has worked in the NHS will be surprised at General Sir Gordon Messenger’s remarks on how it has drifted into its present lamentable situation (report, February 6).

I worked in the NHS for more than 40 years, 34 of them in general practice. The lack of leadership at the highest level meant that most of us felt we were working in a vacuum. Successive health secretarie­s seemed only to be making a name for themselves by imposing innovation­s that were often counterpro­ductive.

At regional and local levels there was no noticeable coordinati­on in planning. Repeated redrawing of boundaries led to confusion and a waste of resources. Recurrent reorganisa­tions caused employment uncertaint­ies and lowered morale. Emphasis on irrelevant data-gathering distracted clinicians from clinical care. Communicat­ion was either nonexisten­t or vaguely threatenin­g.

We now have a plethora of overpaid managers supervisin­g the sending of confusing and contradict­ory letters to long-suffering patients. Why does nobody think of asking those of us who worked in the NHS how to improve it? Dr Rob Caird

Greywell, Hampshire

SIR – If the country has anything left to be proud of, it must surely be the military and anything it organises – most recently events following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

General Sir Gordon Messenger makes clear-sighted suggestion­s for how to address the deep-rooted mismanagem­ent of our precious but broken NHS. I have worked clinically in the NHS for more than 40 years and seen many meaningles­s and expensive “reorganisa­tions” of trusts, clinical commission­ing groups and integrated care boards – all of which fail. Is now not the time to hand over to people who really know how to manage?

Emma Isworth Tenterden, Kent

SIR – I have spent the past 14 days visiting a patient in hospital. I see a five-day-a-week operation, with nothing progressin­g at weekends.

Not once did I see a senior manager visit the ward to observe and encourage the nurses and assistants and to question the dearth of staff and progress, especially at weekends.

Building an improvemen­t strategy in any business begins with observing and understand­ing the operation on the shop floor.

Jim White

Stroud, Gloucester­shire

SIR – Charles Moore (Comment, February 7) writes of the hypocrisy of NHS hospital managers as regards net zero aims. It would be helpful if they turned down thermostat­s in the non-inpatient areas, such as their own offices and outpatient­s. In the hospital where I was a consultant, in midwinter I could see the steam rise from waiting patients in their overcoats. Colleagues would change into scrubs to avoid being too hot.

Stephen Bryan

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