Leadership in Health Care


Musculoskelet. Care 4(1): 38–47 (2006)
Published online in Wiley InterScience
(www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/msc.17

Professional issue

Leadership in health care
Susan Oliver MSc
Nurse Consultant Rheumatology, Litchdon Medical Centre, Devon

Professional issue

The National Health Service (NHS) has to provide a dynamic and responsive
health care system with a workforce that can cope with frequent organizational
change. To achieve this, the NHS must have clinicians who can demonstrate
leadership skills and act as role models at all levels of health care provision.
The outdated health care service that works on strong paternalistic and controlling principles is in effect dead. The changes in the culture of the NHS have
been driven by numerous factors including changes in society, and the decentralization of health care services. Others factors include the failing of the NHS to tackle
system failures such as those identified by the Bristol enquiry and challenges in
implementing complex and ever increasing changes within the health care
‘Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head (not how can I
always do this right thing myself, but) how can I provide for this right thing to always be
done.’ Florence Nightingale (1969)
Florence Nightingale’s words are interesting because she had clearly recognized the important concept of leadership by influencing the delivery of high
quality care through delegation and empowerment.
Donnelly (2003) states that achieving good leadership is more of a journey
than a destination and is easy to recognize in action. Yet it is difficult to define the
important characteristics of a good leader.
A wealth of literature discusses different types of leadership and whether
individuals are born natural leaders with intrinsic personality traits or whether they
can be taught the key qualities required of an effective leader (Hawkins and...