The announcement on Friday that Sir Stuart Rose is to advise the Health Secretary on how to attract inspiring leaders has been met with mixed opinion.

The announcement on Friday that Sir Stuart Rose is to advise the Health Secretary on how to attract inspiring leaders has been met with mixed opinion.

This is not too surprising given it’s a Government appointment, so those who favour a particular political party are somewhat predisposed to either agree or disagree. For me, however, it is not a political issue it’s about good leadership and fresh thinking, therefore it’s a move which I fully support.

Firstly, let’s be clear, Sir Stuart has not been brought in to advise doctors how to perform heart surgery or to tell nurses how to medicate a patient. He has been given a remit to attract leaders who can help transform the culture of NHS hospitals that are currently not delivering for its patients.

Rose is an excellent executive who possess great leadership skills and most importantly a strong focus on inspiring teams to succeed. These are the qualities which are much needed to help those areas of the NHS which are struggling to modernise and meet current and future demands.

We are all aware the NHS is facing tough challenges but it’s not because of a lack of good people on the ground. On the contrary, I know myself and hear all the time from friends and colleagues about the great work carried out by NHS frontline staff. However, there are factors beyond their control that are putting increasing pressure on the current structure, factors such as an aging population and the rising number of people with long term conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

At Lloydspharmacy, working very closely with the NHS as we do, we share many of its challenges. Our contract to dispense medicines is under increasing pressure as the NHS looks to reduce costs but we are also in an ideal position to innovate and adapt our skills to help to support patients and the NHS in other ways thereby reducing the burden on GPs and A&E departments. The success of this transformation, just like the NHS and any other organisation, will depend on our leadership.

The NHS cannot continue to be managed as it is, there needs to be significant change and it’s during times of change that organisations look to their leaders – whether they are the rising stars from within or new talent with experience from other sectors. These leaders need to be able to bring people with them on the journey and keep them motivated, inspired and empowered to do things differently. In the NHS they will need to make brave decisions to drive the patient agenda and achieve goals quickly and effectively.

This is no small feat, which is why I believe Sir Stuart is an excellent choice. He will bring his experience in meeting similar challenges as well as a fresh perspective from a different sector. He’s been asked to advise on how NHS trusts can improve organisational culture through leaders being more visible an in touch with frontline patients, services and staff. As any good manager in retail knows they need to regularly be on the shop floor to truly understand and support their teams. I take time to visit our stores every week and make it my business to keep up to date with my colleagues’ challenges.

I have a lot of respect for Sir Stuart; he started on the shop floor at M&S and worked his way up. Then, when he reached the top, he successfully navigated the business through some very difficult times. Sir Stuart’s passion for the customer and providing compelling solutions and experiences is renowned. He will bring a wealth of experience and passion to this role. 

  • Cormac Tobin is UK managing director for Celesio the group which owns Lloydspharmacy