NHS leaders: government commits to new support and improvement measures

The government has published a report of an independent review of the test for making sure senior NHS leaders are fit for their posts

A nurse updating a whiteboard in a hospital.

The Kark review of the fit and proper persons test was led by Tom Kark QC. It includes 7 recommendations for how the government can better support NHS senior leaders to deliver high-quality and safe care in the NHS.

Of these recommendations, the government has accepted in principle to:

• set up a central database of information about the qualifications, previous employment and performance of directors
• make new competency standards to help people know what to expect of senior managers

The remaining recommendations will be considered as part of the workforce implementation plan later this year, which will be led by Baroness Harding, chair of NHS Improvement.

These include:

• setting up a new organisation that can suspend directors who are found to have committed serious misconduct, such as bullying and harassment of staff
• requiring old employers to provide references to potential new employers

The Department of Health and Social Care commissioned Tom Kark QC, previously counsel to the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry, to lead a review into the effectiveness of the NHS fit and proper persons test last year.

The test is overseen by the Care Quality Commission as part of their regular inspections of NHS trusts and aims to ensure executive-level managers are fit to carry out their roles to the highest standard.

It came under scrutiny following a report into the severe failures at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust between 2010 and 2014, where poor leadership was found to have resulted in a widespread culture of bullying and harassment and declining patient care.

The government accepted the call from Dr Bill Kirkup for a wider review into the fit and proper persons test, following his examination of the failures at Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust.