Increasing the number of managers employed at NHS Trusts could help improve Trust performance, suggest findings from an analysis undertaken by researchers at Warwick Business School and the Universities of Bristol and Leeds.

Using publicly available statistics to measure around 150 acute hospital trusts in England from 2007 to 2012, the researchers found that those with a higher level of managers had better outcomes, including improved patient care.

They concluded that a one percent rise in the management-to-staff ratio of acute Trusts, from two to three percent of the workforce, would place those Trusts in the top third in terms of performance for efficiency and patient experience scores.

“Contrary to what many policymakers and media commentators would have us believe, our research suggests the NHS is not ‘over-managed' and that managers, as a group, are making significant contributions to efficiency and improved patient care,” said Warwick’s Professor Ian Kirkpatrick.

“The evidence shows, overall, the positive contributions of general managers appear to be greater than the costs and risks associated with ineffective management,” he noted, stressing: “This, we believe, is an important finding, and one which should not be ignored as the NHS gears up to deal with the very considerable funding and organisational challenges that lie ahead.”