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New roles and responsibilities of NHS chief executives in relation to quality and clinical governance
  1. Charlotte Sausman, senior research associate
  1. The Judge Institute of Management Studies, Cambridge University, Cambridge CB2 1AG, UK
  1. Dr C Sausman c.dargie{at}


The role of the chief executive in the NHS is to act as organisational head, with financial and managerial responsibility, and now responsibility has been extended to include clinical standards as part of the duty of quality and the introduction of clinical governance. These new responsibilities have implications for relations with staff inside the organisation and, in particular, with clinicians, as well as adding to the overall public accountability of chief executives. As well as increasing expectations of chief executives to meet performance objectives and other targets within the organisation, their role remains relatively new and sometimes contentious in the health service, forming part of the history of NHS management reform. The developing role of chief executives and the complex world in which they operate in the health service is discussed. It is suggested that support from colleagues at both the organisational and national levels is required to help them discharge their new responsibilities, together with a greater focus on the development of their role and skills.

  • NHS chief executives
  • management reform
  • clinical governance

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