Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors as leaders

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 21 April 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1555
  1. Candace Imison, deputy director of policy, The King’s Fund,
  2. Richard W Giordano, senior consultant, Developing Leaders, The King’s Fund
  1. Correspondence to: C Imison c.imison{at}

    Next week, the BMJ and The King’s Fund will hold a debate asking if doctors have neglected their duty to lead the NHS. Candace Imison and Richard W Giordano describe the importance of doctors as leaders

    An extensive consultation exercise led by The King’s Fund and the Royal College of Physicians with hundreds of doctors across England last year identified a lack of medical leadership.1

    “There’s no easy way to sugar the pill—according to the doctors who took part in this consultation exercise, medical leadership (with a few notable exceptions) was conspicuous by its absence,” it said.

    These findings seem to be supported by Professor Aidan Halligan’s (former Director of Clinical Governance for the NHS) reflections on clinical leadership last year. Talking about his work across seven different trusts—which were all dealing with the consequences of a lack of clinical leadershiphe said: “In every service, I noticed underlying themes of poor leadership, professional isolation, ineffective systems and processes, disempowerment and poor communication. The underlying team issues included an “everyone knows” culture, active covering …

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