Analysis & Informatics
24 Jun 2015
It's been a little while since my last post, so I thought I would write a quick update of what I've been up to, as well as talking about a very current health issue in the media.
I have been in my final placement for a few months now and feel like I am really getting my teeth into things. I am currently working on two related projects in my role as performance development manager- redesigning the process by which the clinical teams are accountable for their performance to CEO and senior leadership team, and reviewing and redesigning our internal performance dashboards and reports. This has been quite challenging as I'm working to a tight time frame, and am meeting some resistance to the cultural change along the way.
I have just completed this year's School for Health and Care Radicals, a great free change leadership programme run by NHS IQ which shares frameworks and teaching around how to be an inspiration for change- rocking the boat and staying in it. This programme has been so useful in helping me frame my approach to forming relationships in my role, and engaging with teams on a personal level, tapping into their values to form a common vision and purpose.
Outside of work I have been really struck and saddened by the recent reporting of the Germanwings air crash. The tragic loss of 150 lives is awful, but the ignorant way the story is being reported in the media is also shocking. There have been headlines questioning why someone with a mental illness was allowed to fly a plane and associating depression with murder, passing blanket judgement on an often invisible population. This style of reporting on mental illness, terming someone "crazed" in the same sentence as saying they are mentally ill, is lazy and ignorant. It perpetuates the stigma and misinformation that those affected by mental illness have to face on a daily basis.
Just as with physical illness there is a whole spectrum of different types and severities of mental illness. While we would not think to group someone with a broken thumb and someone with a long term debilitating illness, such as arthritis, together this is what often happens with the less visible mental illness. To suggest that no one who is affected by mental ill health should hold a position where they are responsible for the wellbeing of others is to discount around 1/5 of the population. It is nonsensical, there are many people with well managed conditions who you would never even know are ill, functioning as a healthy part of society. You don't choose mental illness, any more than the type 1 diabetic chose their condition, but ill health of any sort does not define the individual. The tragedy of the German wings crash was the result of the actions of one person, who happened to suffer from a condition. This condition may well have not been managed appropriately and may have contributed to his actions, but they remain his actions alone, not the representative actions of all people suffering depression or mental illness. He is not our spokesperson, and to stigmatise and blame mental illness is lazy and damaging, and a sad indication of the way mental illness is treated in society.
While these two topics may seem unconnected I believe the recent reporting in the media shares similarities with the challenges I am facing in my role. At the end of the day it is about people, both as individuals and as groups. We often hear the term "patient centred care" being used to describe what good healthcare should look like, but I believe that we really need to use this individualised approach in a wider way. Taking the time to look at the unique factors affecting individuals and teams can lead to better relationships and more successful change. Staff are not just staff, they are individuals, people, as well. It is also important to remember the individual does not always represent the group, and there is often more to a situation than first meets the eye.
Because the NHS isn't just about patients. It is about individuals, people and real relationships.