New Year is traditionally a time for making a resolution to change something in our lives and one of the things I have been pondering is why we sometimes put off saying things until it is too late.
On a personal note my wife’s parents both died last year, dad aged 94 and mum aged 92. For many years we celebrated Christmas with them so this year we had to talk about them rather than share the day with them. We recalled good times we had enjoyed with them but also recognised some of the opportunities missed to celebrate the irreplaceable relationships we have as a family and to tell people how important they are in our lives and how much we value them.
Thinking about the NHS, one of the messages in the reports last year by Sir Robert Francis and Sir Bruce Keogh was that many people failed to speak out when they knew that poor care was being delivered. Why was this? In some cases patients were fearful of reprisals thinking that if they did complain the consequence might be even worse care. Staff likewise feared that they would be ostracised at work and their career would suffer.
So one resolution we might consider for 2014 could be to have those conversations in which with sensitivity, and yet honestly and courageously, we tell people what we think. This can make us vulnerable to an unexpected response and we may feel uncomfortable in speaking and hearing difficult messages but we will retain our integrity.
The best relationships – both personal and organisational – are based on trust; and this is established when there is openness and honesty and a recognition by all parties that to avoid misunderstandings and to establish a shared view of the current situation we should clearly state our views and opinions. So I look forward to discussions about the assessment of the current health and wellbeing of all of us who are residents of Blackburn with Darwen and the evidence which supports this. From this starting point we can set out plans for changes so that we eliminate poor practice, stop doing things that do not work and do more of the things that do, and try new ways of making our lives better in 2014 than they were in 2013.
I consider that the CCG, 9 months into its existence as a statutory body, has begun to make improvements. It has demonstrated that putting clinicians, who combine their day to day contact with patients with a role on behalf of all in Blackburn with Darwen, alongside elected members and others from voluntary and community groups representing citizens at the heart of the decision-making process on the Health and Wellbeing Board, faster progress can be made in introducing changes.
In 2014 I expect to see the establishment of strong partnerships in the four localities of the borough around which GPs will group with primary and social care colleagues. One key task will be to draw upon the strengths of the families and communities in these areas to provide the support and encouragement that can make a difference to someone’s life as well as to encourage and empower individuals to take control of their own health and wellbeing. To do this successfully will involve clear and consistent communications and honest acknowledgement of current shortcomings and limitations. From this we need a shared determination to use our personal and financial resources to maximum effect to get people living longer and enjoying better lives.