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March 31st 2017

Gavin Boyle
It’s a bit of an understatement to say these are challenging times for the NHS. With increasing demand, advances in the range of treatments we can offer and, of course, constrained finances it can sometimes feel like ‘mission impossible’ to stay focussed on the thing that really matters - delivering great care for the community we serve.  
I was pleased this morning to see the early reports of the update on the five-year forward view.  This was a blueprint for the NHS that was published about two-and-a-half years ago, which was principally written by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England.  There is much in the update to be welcomed. The scale of the challenges we face as a service is explicitly acknowledged, which I think is helpful. It’s good to see there is a focus on improving mental health services, as there are some real challenges in relation to the availability of specialist beds for both adults and children. Locally we get good support from our colleagues at Derbyshire Healthcare but sometimes bed capacity can be a difficulty and so I’m delighted that this is a particular focus in the plan.  
There’s also an emphasis on improving urgent care outside of the hospital; whether that’s better access to GP appointments or strengthening the 111 service. As you know, rising demand on ED is one of our major challenges and anything we can do to improve out of hospital services has to be a good thing. One of the headlines for me is the particular emphasis placed on partnership working – a regular feature of this blog. The NHS is at its best when all the bits work together; I sometimes think the ‘market approach’ over the last 20 years or so has not helped with this, and it’s good to sense that this is changing.
One of the things this brings home to me is the importance of leadership, which becomes even more important when the going gets tough. It was good to spend Wednesday afternoon in one of our leadership community events.  This brings together leaders from all professional backgrounds across the Trust to think about some of our challenges and how we can better support our colleagues to meet them.  We had an update on our PRIDE ambitions, which is our way of making sure we keep a balanced approach in terms of our priorities, making sure that we 'Put our Patients First', 'Get it Right First Time', 'Invest our Resources Wisely', Develop our People' and Ensure Value from Partnerships'.  
I was particularly impressed to hear from a couple of our leaders, Ali McCaul from Finance and Ali Brailey from Pharmacy, who described how they were using the PRIDE framework within their very different services to ensure that balance is achieved. It was good to hear from a finance colleague how the team is thinking very carefully about their role in putting patients first. It was also good to hear from Ali in Pharmacy about how that clinical service is thinking about using resources more efficiently.  A couple of great examples of how leaders within our Trust are helping to make sense of the challenges we face and creating a ‘golden thread’ from the Board through to everyone who works here at DTHFT.  
We also had a session led by Lynn Markiewicz, a colleague of Professor Michael West who has done some work with the Trust in relation to collective leadership. Lynn is a psychologist by background and used her particular experience to give a refreshing slant on the role of leaders.  One of the things that stuck with me was the importance of having a positive mindset. She challenged us to begin all of our team meetings by asking each member to contribute at least one good thing which has happened to them in the last week.  So I’m throwing down the gauntlet; why don’t we all give this a go and let me know how you get on?  One colleague shared that they’d started to do this and whilst at first it felt a bit naff they’d now got into the habit as a team and felt it really changed the mood – so go on, give it a try!
We also had a chance to update colleagues on the partnership with Burton.  Next week, we will be taking a draft of our Outline Business Case to both Trust Boards for discussion.  This is a really good example of why partnerships are such an important part of how we in the NHS will better meet our challenges.  
Sticking with the theme of leadership, I’ve finished my week with a trip to Loughborough University, where I was asked to give a talk to a group of colleagues on a general management development programme hosted by the East Midlands Leadership Academy.  I shared some of my experiences of leadership within the NHS. I always feel slightly humbled when asked to do this type of thing – like everyone else I have good days and bad, but I still feel like I’ve got an awful lot to learn myself, but it’s nice to be asked.  In preparing for the afternoon I thought about some of the qualities of good leaders I’ve had the benefit of working with. My list of qualities that make for good leadership include things like living your values; simple things like kindness, compassion, treating people with respect, being positive (see above!); ensuring people feel they are not alone; the ability to work with others is so important, as is resilience when times are hard.  As I said at the start, these are difficult times, but if we pull together we can continue to make this fabulous institution we call the NHS the jewel in our crown – a thing that distinguishes us as a civilised nation.
Have a great weekend

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