Weeknote: 28 March to 1 April 2022

Large pipe organ above a balcony in a gothic hall
First trip out after the end of my Covid isolation, to my son’s university graduation ceremony

What did you enjoy?

The chance to remotely observe a couple of user research sessions on web chat for 111 clinical consultations, bringing my 2 hours every 6 weeks commitment up to date.

A demonstration by an urgent and emergency care system supplier of some new capabilities they’re building for their customers who run 111 and 999 services. It prompted some good discussion about places in the patient journey where giving people more information could give greater certainty and reduce unnecessary callbacks.

What was hard?

A meeting about an important change in which it felt as if there was a predetermined solution in search of a problem, not the other way around. I had gone in expecting to talk about some positive things we want to build on, but the framing was all around “pain points” and so didn’t leave much space for a balanced conversation. I made a note to follow up with the people who had raised those pain points and see if we can explore a wider range of potential solutions together.

What did you learn?

In another important meeting this week, I sensed that senior decision-makers were alive to the current operational problems in the NHS, and wanted to support our work around urgent and emergency care. That’s a good thing. But this nervousness means it’s the duty of those of us who work on this area to talk honestly about which of our activities will make the biggest difference and in what timeframe, and be careful not to overclaim about the impact we can make in a complex system.

Outside the NHS, I have a non-executive board role with Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association. Liz, the chair of the audit and risk committee, is stepping down from the board and this week was her last committee meeting in the chair. Frustratingly Microsoft Teams problems prevented me from saying properly how much I have learned from Liz, about keeping even the most technical discussion focused on the customer, and how to give an executive team just the right balance of support and challenge.

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