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Failing hospitals: mission statements to drive service improvement?

Annabel McDonald (Department of Psychiatry, Elizabeth Raybould Centre, Dartford, United Kingdom.)
Aamer Sarfraz (Department of Psychiatry, Elizabeth Raybould Centre, Dartford, United Kingdom.)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 5 May 2015




This paper aims to consider whether the hospital mission statement can be used as a management tool to improve service provision in failing hospitals.


A literature search into the potential value and harm of hospital mission statements was done, followed by a survey of initial attitudes within a failing hospital. Do they indicate likely success of the tool?


Mission statement is a potentially valuable leadership tool in the hospital environment. The success of its implementation is broadly dependent on its being developed with the support of stakeholders and its real application to all management decisions and questions of asset allocation. The potential danger lies in the fact that it can be seen as an expensive expression of politically correct platitudes which leads to cynical alienation of stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

This was a small study within a single UK failing hospital, and extending its range will help to clarify whether its findings are typical of attitudes within such institutions.

Practical implications

The likely success of the hospital mission statement as a management tool within a failing hospital is significantly limited by initial attitudes and preconceptions. Our research suggests that implementation is likely to be detrimental without preparatory involvement of the local community and hospital staff at all levels.

Social implications

Hospital management cannot be divorced from the local community where patient confidence must be maintained.


This paper complements previous research, which has looked at mission statement acceptance among the upper echelons of hospital management.



Many thanks to the hospital staff and visitors who shared their views with the authors.


McDonald, A. and Sarfraz, A. (2015), "Failing hospitals: mission statements to drive service improvement?", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 77-82.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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