General who led the Royal Marines’ invasion of Iraq is appointed to lead the biggest shake-up of NHS management in 40 years
- Sir Gordon Messenger has been asked to stamp out ‘waste and wokery’
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid is keen to ensure tax rise is not wasted
- Ministers hope Sir Gordon will apply his leadership skills from serving in Iraq
A general who led the Royal Marines’ invasion of Iraq has been appointed to lead the biggest shake-up of NHS management in 40 years.
Sir Gordon Messenger has been asked to stamp out ‘waste and wokery’ in the health service and ensure ‘every pound is well spent’.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is keen to ensure none of the Government’s recent £36billion tax rise for health and social care is wasted. This is likely to lead to a cut in the number of fat-cat NHS managers and bureaucrats so more money is spent directly on patient care.
Ministers hope retired military chief Sir Gordon, formerly second in command of the British Armed Forces, will apply his leadership skills from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to spearheading reform of the NHS during the most challenging period in its history. He has been told to ‘drive up efficiency’ amid concerns that too much of taxpayers’ cash is going on bureaucracy.
Sir Gordon Messenger (pictured) has been asked to stamp out ‘waste and wokery’ in the health service and ensure ‘every pound is well spent’
The number of backroom staff and managers in the health service has been creeping up over the past decade, while waiting lists for patients have soared to record highs. Of the 1.2million NHS employees, just 52.5 per cent are now doctors, nurses or other clinically trained staff.
Last month Mr Javid promised to be ‘watchful of any waste or wokery’ as he announced a 1.25 percentage point increase in national insurance to raise an extra £12billion a year.
The Government said the wide-ranging ‘leadership review’, launched today, marks the biggest shake-up of NHS management for 40 years. It will also aim to reduce stark regional inequalities in healthcare as part of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
Colonel Gordon Messenger, Commander of British Preliminary Operations in Southern Afghanistan on foot patrol in Lashkar Gar, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in 2006
Mr Javid said: ‘I am determined to make sure the NHS and social care delivers for the people of this country for years to come and leadership is so important to that mission. We are committed to providing the resources health and social care needs but that must come with change for the better.
‘This review will shine a light on the outstanding leaders in health and social care to drive efficiency and innovation. It will help make sure individuals and families get the care and treatment they need, wherever they are in the country, as we build back better.’
Sir Gordon will work with Dame Linda Pollard, the chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospital, to examine ways to ‘strengthen leadership’ and promote ‘more efficient ways of working’. They will report the findings of their independent review to Mr Javid early next year.
Sir Gordon, 59, retired from the Royal Marines in 2019 and, despite having no background in healthcare, was made head of operations for the Government’s community testing Covid programme last year. During a distinguished military career, he commanded a unit of the Royal Marines during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Sir Gordon will work with Dame Linda Pollard, the chairman of Leeds Teaching Hospital, to examine ways to ‘strengthen leadership’ and promote ‘more efficient ways of working’ (file image)
He also served as British commander in Helmand province from 2008 to 2009 during the war in Afghanistan. Sir Gordon has been asked to help identify ways to ‘develop leadership skills [needed] this decade across both health and social care’ to help tackle record NHS waiting lists.
The Covid backlog and crisis in social care caused Boris Johnson to introduce the controversial national insurance rise – dubbed the ‘health and social care levy’.
But ministers are under pressure to ensure this extra cash is invested in frontline care.
They have already been criticised for hiring dozens of new NHS executives on salaries of up to £270,000 who are charged with making sure the £36billion health and social care tax is spent wisely.
Meanwhile, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, launched yesterday, will combat the top preventable risk factors for poor health – including obesity, smoking and alcohol.
Mr Javid said: ‘The pandemic has laid bare the health disparities we face not only as a country, but as communities and individuals. This must change and this body marks a new era of preventative healthcare to help people live healthier, happier and longer lives.’
No more tax rises, top ministers warn Boris Johnson
Two of Boris Johnson’s most senior ministers last night fired warning shots against any more tax rises.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng and Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg argued further increases would not be Conservative. Their remarks come after the Prime Minister broke a manifesto pledge by increasing National Insurance to pay for the NHS and social care.
‘My job is to make us not lose sight of the fact that we are Conservatives,’ Mr Kwarteng told Conservative Home. ‘We believe in markets, we believe in individual responsibility, we believe in the ingenuity of the individual to come up with ideas that can transform society.’
He added: ‘We can talk about raising taxes in the short term to deal with a short-term crisis. But broadly, higher tax is basically a tax on economic activity.’
Separately, Mr Rees-Mogg said he did not believe taxes could go up any further.
‘We are as highly taxed in this country as we have been… pretty much since the War, certainly since Harold Wilson was prime minister. The idea that there is all this extra tax to be plucked out is simply false,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.