Fortnightnote: 28 February to 11 March 2022

View of River Thames and London skyline in the rain. The tops of the tallest building are obscured by low clouds

What did I enjoy?

Spending time away from the home office – not one, not two, but three different workplaces in one week.

  • Monday at the Department of Health & Social Care in Victoria Street, London, for a first all-in-person Joint Digital Policy & Strategy senior leadership team, followed by a nice Italian dinner in the evening. Also a chance to meet my colleague Nayeema for tea and cake
  • Tuesday at Skipton House, NHS England’s London HQ
  • Wednesday at my usual office base, Quarry House in Leeds

And I noticed I wrote this post a year ago: I’m curious: 3 questions I’m asking right now. Still important questions!

In our digital UEC team retro I mentioned that I’d noticed some great examples of the team pulling together and supporting each other this week. It feels good to be working with a group of people who are committed to delivery, and supporting each other to deliver.

What did I experiment with?

At short notice, I was asked to chair the joint digital policy and strategy unit’s fortnightly all staff meeting, and happened to be in Quarry House, so I inivted colleagues who were in the office to join me around a big screen. After 2 years of everyone being on screen in separate little rectangles, it was nice to gather a few people together for real.

What was hard?

Two new team members told me about hard conversations they’d had to have with colleagues. It made me realise there are things in our culture that more longstanding team members have become numb to, but that newcomers notice and are affected by them.

What do I need to take care of?

I’ve been thinking a lot about psychological safety, both inside our national organisations and in the way we work with the regional and local NHS.

Many people working in our national organisations are tired after the stresses and efforts of the past 2 years. On top of that, working in conditions where trust is lacking can be exhausting, and the current organisation changes across the national NHS national bodies mean that simple everyday interactions can come laden with extra meaning.

I reckon much the same must also be going on in regional and local systems, as people get to grips with pandemic recovery and the impending move to formally accountable integrated care systems.

We talk a lot about the desire to create a learning healthcare system, and for that to really flourish, two things need to be true:

  1. we share information freely and safely across boundaries to improve patient care and services
  2. we talk about how to make things better without anyone feeling attacked for their performance

Leading in systems means creating the space for those things to happen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s