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February 9th 2018

Gavin Boyle

Well, it’s been a funny old week and one that has caused me to reflect on my own personal NHS journey over what is now nigh on 30years! It’s always a real pleasure to be asked to speak to groups of leaders in the Trust and I was delighted on Wednesday to go along to the launch of the latest Derby Lead Programme. This is a development opportunity for mostly Band 7 colleagues working in every part of the Hospitals. It’s an interesting fact that about 50% of everyone who works in the NHS is line managed by somebody at this grade. So this is a really important and influential group of leaders and it was a pleasure to spend a little bit of time with them. They’d asked me to talk about my experiences as a leader in the NHS and I used a really simple model which I borrowed off a chap called Simon Sinek – you can see this on TED Talks. He talks about the importance of thinking deeply about the ‘Why?’ – that’s to say why we commit ourselves to a particular cause. Then about ‘How?’, with the importance of how we approach our vocation. And then finally to focus on the ‘What?’ i.e. the specifics of the task in hand. My personal “Why?”, in relation to my career in the NHS, is that for me the NHS is one of the great institutions of our country – the fact that healthcare is universally free to everybody no matter who they may be is something of immense value. When I look back on my journey in the NHS, I think it’s been time well spent on something that really matters. 

We also talked about the “How?”, which is the way that we do things. I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I do as part of my role is to sign any letters of complaint we receive from patients to understand their experience and to make sure that we learn to improve the care for others. It’s actually relatively rare that some major technical aspect of treatment has gone wrong. It’s usually more to do with how our patient was spoken to or perhaps the attitude of a particular member of staff. This all reminds me that ‘how’ we do things is so important. One of the things I talked to the Derby Lead group about was our CARE values which encapsulate basic ideas of treating people kindly, with respect and courtesy. I’ve mentioned before that this is so important in relation to our patients but it is also equally as relevant to how we work together as colleagues.

These are also the themes I touched on when I met our latest group of Junior Doctors who attended their induction this week. Dr Stephen Hearing, who organises their programme, often asks me and Dr Nigel Sturrock, our medical director, to come along and say a few words. It is always a pleasure to meet new starters and to thank them for choosing DTHFT. I was also at the General Staff Induction on Monday morning to meet new colleagues there too. (If you see any of them out and about make sure that you look after them).

The practical effect of these values was brought home in a lovely email I received from a member of staff whose elderly mother has been a patient within the Trust recently. She wrote:

“On both occasions through A&E and whilst an inpatient on ward 205 both myself and my sister felt mum had great and timely care and wanted to say thank you and well done to the departments as all too often we hear the bad and not the good about the service we give. This applies to all staff we have come into contact with, not just the medical and nursing teams, but discharge team on 205, porters, domestics etc. It’s good to be on the receiving end of excellent care”

It reminds me too that everyone who works at DTHFT has a really important part to play in delivering a great service.

Being accountable to the local community is an important part of the bond that exists between the Trust and the local people we serve. This accountability is most often felt through the relationship with our Governors – elected members of the public and indeed our own staff. But there are other ways this accountability works too. 

And so to finish the week I attended a session in St Peter’s Church in town along with other Derbyshire system leaders to talk about the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which is all about how we better integrate health and social care across the county. The meeting had been called at the request of a campaign group NHS SOS who are anxious about the future of the NHS and particularly wanted to raise issues in relation to the STP directly with senior NHS and Local Authority leaders. It was a challenging discussion with some very searching questions and certainly seemed to put us on the spot at times. It can be a difficult task to explain how, in a challenging environment, we’re seeking to work better together to improve care and be more efficient too. Oddly enough, I left the session feeling really heartened – although I can’t say that we agreed about everything! I was encouraged because in these days often characterised by apathy and self-interest, it was so refreshing to see so many members of the public giving their time because clearly they feel passionately about the NHS and what it means to so many of us. And whilst we might not agree on everything that’s got to be a good thing.

 Have a great weekend.


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