"How much flak do you take with this Rockstar approach?" As I slowly sipped on a finely brewed ale, I pondered how to answer that. This wasn't just"someone" asking to whom I could throw a glib answer back along the lines of "price to pay for celebrities" accompanied by a sardonic smile..this was a good friend. A friend with whom I had trained, shared beers with on many an evenings, tales to tell from conferences past, someone who knew me well, someone who I inherently respect,admire and intrinsically trust. So had to ponder a bit before answering that question which I have posed myself on some dark evenings as to whether its worth it. Worth putting your head above the parapet..worth the hassle..worth keeping the reputation of being edgy, controversial, dividing opinions...? and if I am honest? It's tiring..very tiring to continue doing it...but there has always been a reason, a tangible gain to make and a conscious decision taken 5 years ago.The inherent idea being to change the way a diabetes specialist is looked at, to change the paradigm of thinking, attract controversy, be the lightening rod to anything and everything...and 5 years later, you look back and take stock.
Went to India recently and was having a chat with my dad about a few things and he asked me whether it was time now to simply enjoy my job, not take on the responsibility for everything....and as ever, it gave me a moment to think. We now have a good vibrant, well staffed department, amazing colleagues, a model of care which has sparked new ways of thinking, made people engage more, whether it be Commissioners or providers, a good relationship with our Gp colleagues and local Commissioners....it actually is a happy place to be in. Nurses have taken the onus upon themselves to develop new initiatives, trainees rate us as a high quality training centre...a happy ship indeed.Yes some initiatives still wait..7 day service, hopefully awaiting a final sign off soon and psychology support which should happen, fingers crossed, not too far away...but they all have momentum now. Change takes time unfortunately and in a cash strapped NHS? Treacle it is..laced with cement.
The reason to be "out there" has probably been served...I look around and Southampton under Mayank Patel are making huge strides, the West Hampshire team guided by. Kate Fayers et al are showing what can be done. Further out, Leicester have taken our model one step further...all good news...it feels much more positive, much more vibrant.
Much more needs to be done but hopefully the MacKinnon lecture inspired a few to do things differently, challenge the status quo.
Perhaps the time is right for me to enjoy my own life and my family a bit more. As. A good friend said, give or take,I probably have another 30-35 years left to go..which is only 1500 more weekends or so. I can only do so much to help the system, take on the system but the trick I suppose has always been not to take failure or slow pace of delivery personally? It's tricky but as I sit on the beach on a sunny day in Southsea and watch my kids run around with our new puppy, the bigger picture takes a bit more shape. So no more award ceremonies this year, no more applications...it's time to let the team consolidate and be sure enough of their service to apply for awards themselves.
To my friend, Pete Carey who asked that question...the answer is yes. I do take flak..in fact a heck of it..and as much as the external facade either smiles at it or retorts with a cocksure answer, those close to me will know its not easy. In fact on occasions, the image overshadows the individual and allows mistakes to be made..and mistakes and failures hurt. A lot.
Post Diabetes UK in Liverpool, the feedback from so many has assured me that now the momentum is there and I feel happy, feel more relaxed about the future of diabetes.
The Rockstar will always be there..it however just maybe time to change the chords.