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Professor Malcolm Grant: Master negotiator?


4 July 2012

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Well well well. It seems the Chair of the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) Professor Malcolm Grant may have won the battle over the organisation’s mandate from the government.

Who’d have thunk it?

Prof Grant has repeatedly called for a clear and intelligible mandate, one that is jargon-free and not stuffed full with clinical conditions.

Speaking at the NHS Clinical Commissioners conference back in May 2012 he asked for a mandate “that could be printed in The Sun…but not on page three”.

Well well well. It seems the Chair of the NHS Commissioning Board (NHS CB) Professor Malcolm Grant may have won the battle over the organisation’s mandate from the government.

Who’d have thunk it?

Prof Grant has repeatedly called for a clear and intelligible mandate, one that is jargon-free and not stuffed full with clinical conditions.

Speaking at the NHS Clinical Commissioners conference back in May 2012 he asked for a mandate “that could be printed in The Sun…but not on page three”.

Pause for raucous laughter.

Yet, Prof Grant hinted at the NHS Confederation conference last month (28 June) that his pleas for clarity were meeting resistance from some officials desperate to overload the mandate with clinical details.

While we obviously haven’t got a Sun-like mandate, in my simple mind the objectives set out by the government do seem reasonably clear. That is not to say whether they are right or wrong readers – I’m merely commenting on the presentation of the objectives.

The draft mandate, which is now open for consultation, is 40 pages long with 22 objectives across 60 areas.

Most of the objectives are unsurprising – the promotion of joined-up care, encouragement of shared decision-making, the importance of mental health being placed on a par with physical health – the list goes on.

The document also echoes the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s words in his pre-mandate letter to Prof Grant dated April 2012 that the NHS CB must allow and support CCGs to be autonomous organisations.

Whether this is another empty promise is an entirely different matter.

I digress. The point is after reading the mandate; I had a pretty good idea of what is expected from the board and I got to thinking, is it because of Prof Grant? Does he hold the key to more clearer, intelligible and executable NHS documents?

The mustachioed-one is somewhat of an interesting character. While he oozes confidence and professionalism when he addresses conferences, he is prone to a rather large gaffe or two – the most recent coming from the NICE conference in Birmingham where he accused GPs of being too busy playing golf when they should be caring for patients.

But maybe such gaffes are deliberate ploys to put you off the scent that he really is a rather clever tactician, a master negotiator if you will, for he seems to have pulled off the unthinkable – a readable government/NHS document.

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