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Doctors 'lousy at managing NHS resources', leading academic claims

Lord Darzi's drive towards a clinician-led NHS is misguided and fails to recognise fundamental deficiencies in doctors' managerial skills, a leading health economist claims.

GP leaders recently warned the profession was being frozen out of the rollout of plans in Lord Darzi's NHS Next Stage Review and given little say in key decisions.

But Professor Alan Maynard, professor of health economics at the University of York, has insisted the idea that doctors should be leading reform was a ‘nonsense'.

Professor Maynard, who is a specialist adviser to the Commons health select committee, wrote in his regular column for Health Policy Insight: ‘The notion is that if doctors are brought into management, resources will be used more efficiently.

‘It is arrant nonsense to advocate that doctors should manage. They already do so. It is they who "handle, wield, conduct and control" the allocation of resources and access to care in the NHS and every other healthcare system on the planet. The policy problem is that they are so lousy at their job!'

Professor Maynard added: ‘The central policy issue is not getting doctors involved in management. Rather it is to accept they are already key managers, but ones who may have neither the skills nor information to conduct their business efficiently.'

But Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and a GP in Cullompton, Devon, said Professor Maynard was talking ‘absolute jibberish'.

He said: ‘Clinicians have never been allowed to lead properly, as the system has only let them do it at arms length. But to say they can't lead is blatantly prejudiced.'

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