LONDON (AFP) – Failing hospitals will be paired with managers from top-performing ones while a ??10 million leadership programme will seek to draw new talent into Britain's NHS under plans to improve the health service unveiled Thursday.
Bosses from the best hospitals in England will be drafted in to help 11 others placed in "special measures" after a review of hospitals with high death rates in the wake of the Stafford Hospital scandal.
A 10-month leadership training programme will meanwhile aim to attract top industry managers as well as high-flying doctors from within the NHS to create a new tier of health chiefs.
The course could include an eight-week period of study at a leading business school, with US ivy league university Harvard among those being considered along with presitigious British institutions, health sources said.
The planned scheme is due to start next spring and includes a six-month posting to a high-performing NHS Trust and a one-month business placement.
Discussions are believed to be ongoing with BT, Microsoft and FirstGroup.
"If we want this country to be a world-leader, we need a world-leading health service led by the very brightest and best, so I am ambitious about seeking out fresh talent wherever we can find it," said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
He said "mediocre management and lack of clinical leadership" were at the heart of systematic failings identified at Stafford Hospital.
"We are determined to learn that lesson, and train strong leaders to drive up standards across the NHS through this cutting-edge programme," he added.
Financial incentives will be available for high-performing hospitals entering into contracts to help rescue failing ones, Hunt said.
But Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of health think-tank the King's Fund, warned that the scheme could do more harm than good if badly implemented.
"In principle, if we can get this right it will level up standards but actually if we get it wrong it may level down," he told BBC radio. "That's an outcome nobody wants to see."