Partha Kar

Pulling together under one organisation – the NHS

I travel a lot nowadays, spending a lot of time talking to different healthcare professionals, meeting either face-to-face or virtually with commissioners and patients.

Time and time again, one thing stands out: the belief that we are different organisations. I accept that we all have interests to protect although for patients, of course, that matters little. Who cares what badge you hold as long as you provide compassionate, timely and appropriate care?

It’s the biggest bug bear of the NHS – multiple organisations and the essence of competition which pits colleagues against each other, making enemies out of old friends, raising ambitions amongst clinical professionals to expand their territories.

Managers take a lot of flak. But maybe they’re just married to the ethos of their employing trust and their goals, which can stifle clinicians who would like to think of the pathology as a system wide one.

Those obstacles would melt if our employing body felt as one.

All managers, clinical or otherwise, who I work with are very well aware of my simple motto. If you are not a clinician, you only have one role – to help the clinician deliver the appropriate evidence-based clinical pathway as smoothly as possible. You’re not there to throw curve balls.

If the clinician gets frustrated and walks away, the only one who suffers is the patient. A clinician has a much longer life span within an organisation, and comes with lots of past experience, so listen, learn and help whether you are running human resources, information governance or operations.

This is healthcare which has a paucity on the supply side. If we run the clinician ragged, the system fails.

I’m yet to fail with any business case, or negotiations with management – trust or commissioning. Some take more time than others but eventually they happen. If my team, which has clinical care at its core, believe something needs to happen and it’s been sense checked with our patients, then it will happen.

The problem? I am starting to see young, exuberant clinical leaders starting to lose their zeal, and cynicism build. To all non-clinicians within the NHS, be aware that today’s hard-nosed drive to get to a target could damage patient care for the future.

Your name tag, which proudly displays your organisation’s name, means little; what matters is the clinician who is trying their best to be there when needed.

There’s one three-letter sign that really matters – NHS. Would the Minnesota branch of Microsoft declare that they are “Minnesota Microsoft”? No – they are proud to be Microsoft. Question is, why that same pride and ethos doesn’t exist within the NHS?

If we think of the 3 letters on the badge, the rest should fall in place. And if it doesn’t, think whether you genuinely believe in patient care.

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