In the face of the long NHS waiting lists, lack of hospital beds, failure to address social care, lack of NHS medics, incompetent management and falling standards of care, on June 8th the Government NHS website proclaimed the publication of its report as the “Biggest shake-up in health and social care leadership in a generation to improve patient care”. This so-called ‘landmark’ review into health and social care leadership led by General Sir Gordon Messenger and Dame Linda Pollard was announced in a press release on the website.
The website statements are full of rhetoric but without clear meaning: “The review team met over a thousand passionate front-line staff, managers and leaders across health and social care.” And I thought: What is a passionate staff member? How did they define or measure “passion”? Were some more “passionate” than others? And isn’t “passion” a bit of a danger? Do I really want a passionate doctor or nurse looking after me? No, I want a competent and kind professional, not someone who is “passionate”.
Then I read in the press release that the review found what they called “an ‘institutional inadequacy’ in the way that leadership and management is trained, developed and valued”. What does this mean? What is training for management that is not adequate? And what does the report mean about leadership and management that is “valued”? Here again is wishy-washy rhetoric. What are the ‘values’ that should be valued? And how should one show a leader or manager he or she is valued? A pay rise? Biscuits with a cup of tea? Champagne nights out? Holidays in the sun?
And again, the press report states that the review team “found evidence of poor behaviours and attitudes such as discrimination, bullying and blame culture”. This sounds rather threatening to me. How do they define “poor behaviours”, or “poor attitudes” or “discrimination’” or “bullying” or “blame”? Especially when everyone they met, “over a thousand people”, were “passionate”?