Good Leadership – The Ripple Effect

Twenty two percent. That’s the figure I saw yesterday regarding the number of staff bullied in the NHS. That’s simply not acceptable. That’s 1 in 5 staff members currently being bullied. With the strains and pressures on the NHS at the moment and the announcements made this week it is vital now that we work together. We are all colleagues working hard to improve patient care. If we want to deliver high quality patient care we must work as a team. Collaboration between patients, clinicians, managers, voluntary sector, education, technology and businesses will reap rewards. Now we need to be innovative and come up with new ways of working. Costs are increasing and demand is increasing and will continue to increase. The most important asset the NHS has is its staff. Now more than ever is the time that we need to come together to deliver an efficIent and effective health service. We must begin to form new relationships and new models that deliver quality patient care – the 5 year forward view of integrating care for example.

Our staff must be able to work in an environment that brings the best out of them. If we look at recent success stories around how patient care has improved within the NHS it will be based on how values have been adopted successfully. Now, saying you are “values based” and actually delivering values are two completely different things, and I’ll touch on both.

Let’s take an organisation that talks values but doesn’t deliver values. The effect it has on staff and therefore patient care is quite evident. Staff will become disillusioned and leave. If you say you are values based you must act in a values way. Openness and transparency is key. Trust must be built on actions and deliverables. If an organisation doesn’t deliver on values staff will leave and patient care suffers. Staff sickness rates increase, meaning locum rates soar and the quality of care reduces – “The Ripple Effect”. This it is not necessarily a deliberate act by individuals on how to handle values but more on the lack of development or willingness to learn from previous mistakes or listen to concerns raised by their staff.

Now if we look at an organisation that fosters values as a way of working we see the opposite effect. Staff feel valued and are happy to come into work to deliver quality patient care. They embrace change and are enthusiastic, which leads to innovation. The effect is that the organisation attracts quality staff and the standard of care goes up while the cost goes down. Locum cover will not be required as the staff sickness rate will drop – “The Ripple Effect”

It’s important not to just look at the clinical personnel stats regarding good leadership but look at the entire workforce of the organisation. Measuring how staff feel is quite easy. The body language will tell you a lot, along with how staff interact and work as a team. We should encourage staff to be patient focused and always looking to improve, ensuring staff aren’t stifled. I once overheard a colleague say that another colleague had “too much enthusiasm”, and that a colleague who was raising genuine concerns wasn’t “playing ball”.

I’ve been fortunate over the last few months to meet a number of leaders who work in various different areas who encourage and nourish enthusiasm and innovation to better our community: Dr A Hannan, Roz Davies, Dr Ollie Hart, Chris Hanson, Dr Farhan Amin, Dr Suresh Rao, Dr Umesh Prabhu, Jason Gooding, Fred Story, Simon Harrison, Glenys Marriot, Aaron Cummins, Kate Wilson, Michelle Masters, Andy Fearon, Richard Wise, Dr Gloria Esebonga, Olive O’Connor, Helen Ray, Chris Tiplady, Natalie Silvey, Vijaya Nath, Paul Jebb, John Kinnard, Anthony McCann, John Walsh, Dierdre Munro, Jenny Clarke, Hala Jawad, Sharon North, Farouq Din to name just a few, and there are so many more.

Good leaders create more good leaders, that is the secret to success. Enthusiasm and innovation go hand in hand. Encourage that and we will see results.

An inspiring and innovative NHS that values staff input in developing quality patient care will continue to deliver the best health care service in the World.

Gareth Presch