Posted by: Witch Doctor | June 5, 2007

Sandy Leitch – who is he?



Well, Sandy Leitch has no direct role in MMC at all!

But what he has written will influence Health Care in the UK, there is no doubt about that. Indeed it seems the Department of Health couldn’t wait for his report to come out before intitiating some of his recommendations.

The Witch Doctor has frequently mentioned in other posts that many of the changes within the NHS are being driven by concern over demographic change. eg female medical workforce, the baby boomers retiring and becoming ill. Then mix in the European Working Time Directive.

Worldwide, there is huge concern about demographic change, not only in healthcare but in most other aspects of society. In 2004 HM government asked Sandy Leitch to help out by identifying how the UK could develop appropriate skills to prosper and improve social justice in the face of an ageing population and diminishing workforce.



Here are some of the things that are said about Sandy Leitch:

“A team-builder, he has a huge appetite for hard work, but can always break off for a laugh or a joke.”
Mary Francis, chairman of the Association of British Insurers

“One of the most driven individuals I have ever met”
Cay Stratton, director of the National Employment Panel

“If necessary, he will throw his weight about”
Industry competitor

Its very easy to find out lots more about Sandy Leitch by doing a Google search.

Anyway, in December 2006 he produced the document below. The bold italics are mine.


“Our intermediate and technical skills lag countries such as Germany and France. We have neither the quantity nor the quality of necessary vocational skills. We have made enormous progress expanding higher education – and this is critical to becoming a high-skill economy. Over one quarter of adults hold a degree, but this is less than many of our key comparators, who also invest more. Our skills base compares poorly and, critically, all of our comparators are improving. Being world class is a moving target. It is clear from my analysis that, despite substantial investment and reform plans already in place, by 2020, we will have managed only to ‘run to stand still’. On our current trajectory, the UK’s comparative position will not have improved significantly. In the meantime, the world will have continued to change and the global environment will be even harsher. The scale of the challenge is daunting.

Our recommendations start with an ambitious vision. The UK must become a world leader in skills. Skills is the most important lever within our control to create wealth and to reduce social deprivation. We recommend radical change right across the skills spectrum. We have defined clear ambitions at basic, intermediate and higher skills. Our study focuses on adult skills but we express concern and suggest action for 14-19s.

‘Economically valuable skills’ is our mantra. Institutional change and simplification are necessary. However, we have tried to identify how to deliver better on what we have rather than to invent many more new structures.”

So, apparently, the UK is not doing too well so far. As a nation we are underskilled.

Although the remit is much wider and this document is more recently published, nevertheless it seem to contain the concepts for the basis of Agenda for Change, Modernising Medical Careers, The National Practitioner Programme and much more.

It embraces the competency culture.

We need to get ‘Up-skilled” (a term loved by Professor Fiona Patterson)

Presumably doctors’ training is being sucked into this too, because although a love of learning is an attribute of all medical school applicants, it is not “politically correct” to treat any group, least of all the medical profession differently.

Yes, in spite of the straight A’s, the degrees, the higher qualifications, the Royal Colleges, the Deaneries, CPD, lifelong learning, lets pretend the medical profession are underskilled and incompetent.


And so, a single spine competency structure for all.

Whether it is sensible or not.

It is not.

The Witch Doctor thinks there are two agendas here – the altruistic one and another, specifically with the medical profession in mind.

Two agendas.

But only one career spine.

Not just yet.

But soon.

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page






  1. […] to be the epi-centre of the competency culture. It addresses the UK skills deficit outlined in the Leitch Report. This report is mentioned several times throughout their […]

  2. Hello, given your post about Sandy Leitch, I thought you might want to have a look at my latest post, ‘Lord Leitch’s Levers’ at

    best, NGLE

  3. Thanks for pointing me in your direction NGLE. I see youre doing a series of posts on Sandy Leitch. I suspect they will help make sense of what is happening within the medical profession.

    I’ll read all of them carefully.

    Witch Doctor

  4. […] In June of this year, The Witch Doctor stumbled across a paper by Lord Leitch. […]

  5. […] will recollect, The Witch Doctor thinks Lord Leitch is one of the main names behind The Skills Escalator, Competency based training and, by […]

  6. […] the UK to its knees. This would exacerbated by the predominance of women in medicine. We reckoned The Leitch Report, Agenda for Change, The Skills Escalator were all attempts to address the imbalance. We thought MMC, […]

  7. […] Sandy Leitch is The Skills Escalator Man. […]

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