Chief operating officers need greater support, says Monitor

The report, entitled ’Supporting the role of the chief operating officer’, suggests that COOs feel their work can be undervalued and under-resourced and can often become lonely and isolated from other staff. It also found that the amount of support given to COOs varies greatly across the sector.

Monitor surveyed 103 trusts and foundation trusts in order to better understand how COOs could be supported.

More than 30 per cent of respondents believed their time would be better spent if they had more time to develop strategy and plan service developments, and 25 per cent said they wanted to spend more time increasing their visibility and cultivating stronger relationships with stakeholders and commissioners.

The survey also found that the most popular form of support for COOs was buddying with peers who experience similar issues, with less than 10 per cent feeling that in house training was the most useful.

To address this problem of support, Monitor will look into developing more buddying systems, coaching programmes and educational conferences. The first such conference will be launched in association with the NHS Trust Development Authority on 9 December, which will stand as the first bespoke event for NHS COOs.

The report said: “COOs are a valuable resource in the NHS and are uniquely positioned to affect the day-to-day operation of every part of a healthcare provider. COOs should be nurtured. Moreover, they are ambitious and are likely to form a significant proportion of future chief executives. Therefore, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority are providing further support and education for COOs. This will begin with a bespoke conference on 9 December 2015 that addresses some of the major concerns highlighted in this report.”

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