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22 August 2011
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The challenge

When they write the history of the last twenty years of the NHS, what will they say about the medical profession? Justifiably, they should make a lot of technological change and advances in treatments… but then they always do which allows the majority of us to sit back and bask in the reflected glory of the relatively small number of pioneers.

If they were to stray perceptively into the fiscal challenges faced by health services the world over, will they say that the medical profession rose valiantly to the challenge and applied its massive collective intellect and energy to provide and promote the solution which guaranteed the fundamental principles of the NHS for the next generation? Or will they say that the profession repeatedly punched below its weight?

Cometh the hour, cometh the UK Medical Royal Colleges and the Academy: will their timely backing for a Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management provide the critical focus for medicine to more than rise to the massive leadership challenge which engulfs us all… answers on a postcard please… or should I say 'comments at the bottom' these days? Their foresight has been endorsed by a huge (over 2,200) response to an on-line questionnaire seeking advice as to how to set up the Faculty, what should it do, what should be its organisational form, its membership benefits and, trickiest of all, its business case.

I believe that the fundamental purpose of the Faculty is to enhance health and healthcare through better leadership, management and teamwork. I believe we achieve that by supporting positional medical leaders to be ‘the best they can be’ and by maximising the leadership, management and team-working skills of all doctors. This would be a Herculean task were it not for the intercollegiate nature of the Faculty. Instead of building an empire, it needs to work with and through the Colleges and Faculties, adding value to the considerable activity already taking place, stimulating new activity and bringing a new focus. The prize for success is only the best healthcare system in the world bar none!

This will not be achieved by ‘the few’ in an ivory tower. It needs the concerted effort of you all to help shape its form and function. The challenge of ‘the few’ is how to engage optimally with you, swell the membership rapidly and be a truly modern organisation. The survey told us it needs to be credible, responsive, flexible, inclusive, non-hierarchical… but did not tell us how. I am being educated daily as to what a blog is… my understanding so far is that it can help rapidly with suggestions to some of the types of questions I have posed. Time will tell so, over to you.

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About the author

Peter Lees's picture

Peter Lees

Peter Lees is the Chief Executive of the UK Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management (FMLM). In 2011, he was charged by the UK medical royal colleges and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges with leading the establishment of FMLM which became an independent charity in 2019. FMLM is the second largest medical leadership organisation worldwide with over 2,500 members. It jointly owns the journal BMJ Leader and the international leadership conference, Leaders in Healthcare. FMLM defined the first UK Leadership and management standards for medical professionals and awards fellowships against those standards.

Previously, Peter combined a career in neurosurgery with senior roles in operational management and leadership development at trust, regional and national levels and in global health. Formerly he was Medical Director, Director of Workforce and Education and Director of Leadership at NHS South Central Strategic Health Authority. He was also Senior Lecturer in Neurosurgery at the University of Southampton from 1989 to 2011.

 He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a former Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London and a Senior Fellow of the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management. In 2017, he was appointed Honorary Visiting Professor at The Business School, City, University of London and was awarded Honorary Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Educators in 2018. He was awarded an MBE for services to medical leadership in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2021.


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