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Tuesday 27 July 2021
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David Dalton
Sir David Dalton

Health Secretary selects Salford Royal Chief Executive to lead programme

Salford Royal’s Chief Executive Sir David Dalton will lead a national programme to look at how high performing NHS organisations can support counterparts to raise their own standards.


Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has enlisted the help of Sir David to review how the NHS can make better use of its best existing leaders, so-called “superheads”, who could spread the highest standards for patients across the system by taking on struggling organisations or establishing national networks of NHS hospitals and services.


Sir David will look at how to end the isolation of failing hospitals from the best NHS management and practice – a key finding in the wake of the Mid-Staffs inquiry – and investigate how to enable the best-performing NHS organisations and most successful Chief Executives to establish national groups of hospitals or services as beacons of excellence. This could include non-geographical networks of hospitals under one leadership team where one NHS trust has hospitals around the country.


Sir David Dalton will look at:

  • The extension of the buddying and mentoring schemes in the special measures hospitals programme;
  • Management contracts so that outstanding leadership teams can take on a more formal relationship;
  • Improving incentives for our best NHS hospital trusts to take on turnaround projects and extended management responsibilities;
  • A new framework for NHS providers who are appropriately credentialed go-to people for turnaround projects and extended management responsibilities;
  • The arrangements which could enable local and non-geographical networks of hospitals or services under one leadership team.


Sir David said: “The NHS is making encouraging progress in identifying great care and also in dealing with sub-standard care – but in order to take the next decisive step forward, we need to create new NHS organisational models which allow for the best care found in successful NHS Trusts to be extended to those hospitals who experience difficulty in meeting standards for patients.


“I am delighted to accept the Health Secretary’s invitation to examine how strong and stable leadership from our managers and clinicians can make a positive impact.  We need to see how we can spread best practice and make more use of both our talented people and reliable systems, for the benefit of more patients.”


Sir Stuart Rose, who turned around the fortunes of Marks and Spencer, has also been recruited by the Health Secretary, to advise how the NHS can attract and retain the very best leaders to help transform the culture in under-performing hospitals.


He will look in particular at the problems faced by the 14 Trusts currently in “special measures”, the programme to turn-around failing hospitals introduced last year, where strong leadership was identified as key to improvement.


Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:Everyone wants the peace of mind of knowing their local hospital offers good care - so turning round hospitals where this is not the case is a critical priority for me as Health Secretary.


“Good care should never depend on your postcode, which is why new Ofsted-style hospital inspections are so important. But the difference between good and bad care can often lie in leadership, which is why I am delighted that one of the country's most inspirational leaders has agreed to advise me on how we can attract and retain the brightest and best managers into the NHS so we transform the culture in under-performing hospitals.


“We can also do more to exploit the extraordinary leadership in our best hospitals by making it easy for NHS super-heads to take over struggling organisations. Sir David Dalton is one such leader, who with his team has turned the Salford Royal into one of the best hospitals in the country. He will advise me what more we need to do to enable our best hospital leaders to take over the running of hospitals in difficulty without compromising the success of their own Trusts.”