Tuesday, May 5, 2015


So we are nearly there. Perhaps not too far away, the shrillness of the politicking, the electioneering, the preening, posturing will cease- or at the very least not be at the incessant levels it is at the moment. Come next week or thereafter, we will have a government in place- whatever be its colour or hue and the NHS will go back to being the one that needs support from the folks who are in it.

And the NHS, like never before, will need some serious dose of honesty. Not from the politicians- as they do what they always do- promise the moon, play to the audience, shroud wave when possible- NHS is only bt one of the issues in front of them, so no, I don't expect them to suddenly develop a dose of honesty and deliver something immediately. But the NHS needs it, needs a major dose of honesty- from its leaders. Whatever their tag, whatever their title, wherever you are, however many course you have been to...the time to couch bad news in jargon needs to stop.

I hear a lot about leadership, hear about values, the need for patient safety..I hear all of that- but to me, what makes a leader stand out is simple honesty. The ability to deliver the bad news up front- without any flowery tags. We are standing on the edge of a pretty sharp cliff- and any economist or finance director worth his salt will tell you how precarious it is. So why go to meetings and say things like we "need to work differently?' Why couch half baked studies and suggest we have found "other ways" of doing the same job- when the essence is looking for staff to deliver at lower cost? A recent study showed that twice daily ward rounds improved productivity and gave savings....hallelujah said the moneymen....let's do it. Buried in the study is the line that savings were actually based on bed reductions and staff cuts. Who needs honesty when you have a headline?

So on the eve of the elections, please DO go and vote- vote based on your belief, based on who you think would improve the country- but please don't expect whoever wins to "save" the NHS. There is no bigger disappointment than seeing your hero fail. Don't put whichever party on a pedestal and hoping they will "sort" it...nobody will- it's down to you and find something extra to deliver. Whatever cash will arrive, may arrive either too late or be consumed by the parochial age old squabbling as to who deserves it most. GPs? Why not Physician Assistants? Why not pharmacists? Cheaper about? Better quality? The debate will rage...the battles will continue, the posturing will carry on.

So, come next Monday, don't just sit back because your party lost and thus the NHS is domed, don't be happy that your party won and that it will be saved...try and think of something that will help your manager to effect some savings. If you are a leader, be open and honest about the budget cuts needed this year and work with your team. Those who have openly flaunted their political alliances, good on you and much respect too- BUT be a leader enough to go an challenge your own party if in power to deliver even a bit of what they have promised.

Honesty. Use that in your leadership role. People respect that- otherwise behind your back, once they step out of that meeting room? They all know your words about "challenges and working differently" are hollow lies. Give it a try next week. The NHS certainly needs it- past the intense bipartisan views of political affiliations.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Indeed how leaders pitch the argument for savings is important given the reality of 4% annual cuts. Leaner structures are required to contain overheads alongside addressing central issue of sustaining performance and achieving growth where required. The struggle is striking the balance between competition and cooperation within the whole clinical setup as opposed to territorial battles between specialities and departments for resources in times of austerity. Often times loosing sight of the core issues around growth and performance.
    Shilpi Sahai