Weeknote: 22 to 26 August 2022

Published belatedly having rested in my draft blog posts folder

Complex system of pipes underneath a domestic boiler, drips of water hanging from the left-hand side of the boiler
A leaky boiler was the distraction I didn’t need this week

How did I make expectations clear?

I led a drop-in call for people in the digital urgent and emergency care (UEC) teams that I’m bringing together ahead of the formal NHS England and NHS Digital merger. There’s a lot going on for these teams at the moment: summer pressures for UEC, an incident affecting customers of a 111 system provider, the prospect of a new government, changes in NHS England, and the wider NHS.

I told colleagues that I see two parts to my director’s job in these uncertain times. First, to bring clarity, by working with policy colleagues on the new UEC strategy. Second, to develop the right capability, so we have all the skills we need to solve whole problems for users and be accountable for shared outcomes with our partners. When we have clarity and capability, then we can move authority for decision-making to where the information is – in multidisciplinary teams, supported by multidisciplinary leadership.

It’s understandable that many colleagues may be suffering from change fatigue. The impact of previous reorganisations in NHS Digital, and in NHS England and NHS Improvement, has been overlaid by more than 2 years of pandemic response with remote team formation and working. We need to take care of each other.

At the same time, the changes are the right ones. The merger means no more commissioning inside or inbetween national organisations. Instead of customers and suppliers, we need to find new ways of working together as partners and colleagues.

Knowing that we won’t control everything that happens next, but that we can influence it, I asked everyone to do 3 things:

  • Be proud of what you’re achieving – patients and frontline staff are counting on us
  • Be curious about what your new colleagues do – suspend judgement and be kind
  • Take opportunities to get involved – we can create this together.

What inspired me this week?

I joined a series of presentations from ambulance trusts about regionally-led initiatives to make patients’ care records accessible for paramedics on scene, and clinicians providing urgent and emergency support remotely. Our national teams have provided some funding and can facilitate the sharing of insights, but local leaders know what will work best for their staff and services.

What was hard?

There was a situation in another team which consumed a lot of mine and another senior colleague’s attention. We all care for our colleagues and their wellbeing, and when there’s a crisis, we have to prioritise providing the support that’s required.

Meanwhile, after enjoying spending more time in the office in recent weeks, I had a couple of extra enforced days of working from home, waiting for a plumber to fix a slow water leak from our boiler. Of course, in the big picture, I’m lucky to live in a warm, comfortable home, where snags like this can be quickly sorted out without adding to any money worries.

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