It's been actually a lovely few weeks. No I am not joking..it really has been..on many levels. Weeks which have been laced with meeting new people, learning about new things..to the cursory question one gets when one meets someone after some time.."How's things?" The answer, truly has been "Not bad at all".
The request to meet Simon Stevens came out of the blue and admittedly, a pleasant surprise. There's only so many times you can believe your own hype so I suppose an invite from the head honcho is always welcome. Without going into too much detail, the personal meeting was informative , enlightening, not to mention actually quite educative- away from the bubble of 140 characters opinions on Twitter, it was nice to talk to the man who runs the NHS. Clear thinking was a feature apart from the calmness - sometimes you learn about leadership much more from personal meets than any leadership course can teach you. Stevens has his share his detractors- would anyone in that role but he had encouraging words for someone much down the food chain- I liked that..it made me think again where I could help as regards type 1 diabetes in this country.
Interspersed in those weeks was an obligatory trip to meet some CCGs, yet another tour for the Super Six diabetes model- and once again, met with many a people who had the will, but not necessarily the finance needed upfront to get things moving. A transformation fund - if monitored well- could indeed unlock many a door..austerity has brought forward a fleet of new thinkers...the system needs to support those, not deflate their energy when the NHS needs them most. What was nice was to see the belief that diabetes care needed to change, and change needed based on needs of patients, not as a money saving exercise.
A trip to Ireland brought many joys – not to mention to observe some amazing work being done by Neil, Lesley and Athinyaa- what struck was not only the talk- but the actual ability to walk. I will be honest- in my travels and different roles, I meet many, many folks who are brilliant at doing the talk- but pretty ordinary when it comes to delivering- certainly not these guys. It was wonderful to watch over dinner the sparkle in the eyes- as the discussion was about how to do it, less of what wouldn’t make it work. If you really want to see something special in development- based on sheer energy and infectious enthusiasm of a team- take a trip to Londonderry- many many diabetes centres could have much to learn from them.
In between clinics etc also came a trip to Hertfordshire- at the request of a friend- to talk about diabetes and the role of inspection…the fear factor as regards CQC was palpable- and that’s the feedback the CQC needs to take on board. It has the potential to be a critical friend- a power for real good- as well as being something leaders within organisations can use to improve care. A force not to be feared- but for that to happen, all parties need to change a bit. What however struck me was the 2 patients who spoke to an audience of more than 200 HCPs. The message was loud, it was clear….please stop judging us, please work together. In 2015, that cannot be that big an ask. A loud message to me what needs to change across the country!
A lovely few weeks- much seen, learnt- and much positivity around too- in spite of the virtual meltdown we face as regards finances. Austerity has clearly inspired some “thinking differently”- the question is whether its come about 4-5 years too late- we shall see. There is indeed a lot of chaos but within that, the question is whether it offers opportunity too. My passion is for type 1 diabetes care-a nd the energy seen over the last few weeks has indeed rubbed off a bit. To all the people who matter whether it be Simon Stevens or Samantha Jones or Martin McShane or Jonathan Valabhji, my message has been crystal clear. Sitting on my laurels is an easy option for me- but the energy and desire to do things is now.
So thank you to many who have inspired- I hear plenty of medics shying away from leadership- I will publicly buck the trend and simply say..Here I am. I, along with many others such as Pratik, Emma, Natasha etc, want to improve type 1 diabetes care- and the time is right with all technology, patient power at a nice critical mass.
Shake off the cobwebs- and ask away. Brave enough for some mavericks?