Leading the journey
Earlier this year I walked across Morecambe Bay with a couple of hundred other people. It had rained quite heavily in the week before the walk so the river Kent was quite high. When we were at the start we were told that Cedric Robinson the Queen’s guide had fallen the previous day and would not be able to lead the walk, however he would be on a tractor. Nevertheless no one turned back we all followed the instructions given and although the water got to the tops of thighs arrived as planned in Kent’s Bank.
I was reflecting on leadership and how in this case we trusted in the leader because of his reputation and track record and his confidence in the on the ground (mud) person to conduct the walk safely. Good leaders can delegate successfully and take pride in developing people to be the leaders of tomorrow.
In the NHS there is a need for great leaders who individually and collectively can make a real difference.
Humanity, sensitivity, dignity and respect
Leadership is about knowing what you are looking for and inspiring and motivating others to share your desired outcomes. Everyone on the walk wanted to get to the finish point. I want to be able to say with confidence that people who use the NHS:
- Will be kept safe and will not suffer harm from any treatment they have either in hospital or in the community. This means for example that no one contracts MRSA or similar infection;
- Will be given clinically effective care so that their symptoms are relieved
- Will have a good experience being treated with humanity, sensitivity, dignity and respect.
Leadership is also about getting buy in from others whose actions can help you get to where you want to go. There was good liaison between the guide on the tractor and the on foot leader. An ability to work in partnership with others is therefore vital and in the CCG this means having an open and inclusive style that encourages all the GP members to participate in the journey as well as collaborating with others in the NHS family, the council, third sector and other providers and most importantly the public in the local community.
Good leaders check what is happening and make arrangements for intelligence to reach them. One walker was designated as the person to remain at the rear of the group making sure that no one got left behind. If someone did turn around their role was to allocate someone to accompany them and to signal when they had arrived back at Arnside.
Strong CCG leaders know their organisation and its members well, and recognise that the scale and scope of the commissioning challenge requires distributed leadership at many different levels within the multi professional clinical community.
Leaders are aware of their own development needs and those of the organisation. It was no accident that Cedric was able to nominate someone else to lead the walk as he had previously identified someone as having the requisite skills, knowledge and ability to take over from him when the situation warranted it. CCG leaders should identify those with the potential to provide leadership and support them in developing the self-confidence capabilities and vision to take on the role.
Safe and effective care
A successful outcome for the Guide was a completed walk by the participants but the benefits did not stop these as many walkers were sponsored to raise money for charity. The successful CCG commissions safe and effective care and ensures great patient experience but also recognises that maximising the value of the total spend for their community depends on pursuing shared priorities, seeking out opportunities for pooling resources and developing innovative ways of working.
As chair of the CCG I am keen to hear any thoughts people have about how we can get better at our jobs of commissioning secondary and community health care services and supporting quality improvements in general practice and primary care for the people of Blackburn with Darwen.