Mission command: a leadership philosophy for the Health and Social Care Act 2012?

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The Health and Social Care Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 19 January 2011. On 27 March 2012, the Health and Social Care Bill gained Royal Assent and became the Health and Social Care Act 2012. In implementing this Act, it will be important to ask what leadership will be required to deliver this Act at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of the NHS in England. In addition, is the current approach of 'distributed' leadership actually suited to the NHS, or is it, perhaps, a current trend which is culturally not tried, tested, or appropriate in a UK context?

The British Armed Forces – a large, sophisticated, and most complex public sector organisation – employ the leadership philosophy of Mission Command. One does wonder if this philosophy would be appropriate to the NHS in England in implementing the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

To try to answer this question, this paper will: outline briefly the Health and Social Care Act 2012; interpret how the Act will be operationalised; consider briefly current leadership thinking and culture in the NHS in England; introduce and define Mission Command; and suggest its benefits to the NHS in England. Finally, a suggested 'way forward' will be offered.

It is hoped that this analysis will help researchers and practitioners alike further appreciate the philosophy of Mission Command and appreciate its potential applicability to the NHS in England in implementing the Health and Social Care Act 2012.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2013

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