NHS managers ‘improve efficiency’ according to new research

A new research report from Universities of Bristol, Warwick and Leeds has found evidence to suggest having more NHS managers improves efficiency and the quality of healthcare provided in hospitals.

Researchers from the Universities used data on managers and the performance of 160 hospital trusts in England from 2007 to 2012.

The proportion of managers, hospital efficiency, patient experience and hospital infection rates are consistently reported by all trusts, allowing for comparisons to be made. The results showed that, across all trusts, having a higher proportion of managers had a statistically significant impact on performance.

Even a small increase in managers, from two per cent to three per cent of the workforce, led to a marginal improvement of one per cent in patient satisfaction scores, a five per cent improvement in hospital efficiency and a 15 per cent reduction in infection rates.

briefing will be sent to senior decision makers, outlining the policy implications of the research and saying ‘NHS managers are far from being a bureaucratic burden and a waste of public money; rather,  they add value to the healthcare system’.

Professor Gianluca Veronesi, Professor in Healthcare Management at the University of Bristol, said: “Our research shows that infection rates decreased and patient experience improved with a higher proportion of managers to staff. This suggests that policies aimed at downsizing managers are potentially misguided as they undermine the productive potential of managers and should therefore be reversed.”

“Managers are often blamed for the extra paperwork doctors need to deal with, however much of this is generated by national policies and regulatory demands. Equally, managers in the NHS are not well paid relative to the private sector, while the intensity of work and stress is probably higher.”