Views & Reviews Review of the Week

So, did Gerry fix it?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 13 December 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1268
  1. Rebecca Coombes, freelance journalist
  1. rcoombes{at}

    One year on from attempting to reduce waiting lists at a Rotherham hospital, business guru Sir Gerry Robinson is back. Rebecca Coombes reports

    Despite its grandiose title, Can Gerry Robinson Fix the NHS? was a surprise hit on British television at the beginning of 2007 (BMJ 2007;334:124-5, doi: 10.1136/bmj.39097.690428.59). Its premise was simple: challenge a management guru to reduce the waiting lists at an NHS trust within six months and with no extra funds at his disposal.

    What Sir Gerry Robinson, who has made a career out of reviving failing companies, found at Rotherham General Hospital, South Yorkshire, were warring clinicians and managers, entrenched opinions, and a struggling chief executive.

    Robinson was “stunned” by the waste in nearly every department. There were lingering shots of theatres lying empty on a Friday afternoon. He was shocked by the animosity between clinicians and managers. Surgeons and anaesthetists behaved like children and threw regular tantrums, according to managers. The consultants emerged as the bogeymen of the series. Feisty, resistant to change, unmanageable, were the accusations. Manjit Bhamra, a consultant surgeon, complained that it was impossible to deal with managers because they had only “three O levels, and they are trying to manage staff with five or six degrees.”

    Robinson’s tactic of getting staff to talk to each …

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