Richard Taunt’s recent blog 'History’s long arm', which dismantled the shaky claim that, historically speaking, medicine has overall been a force for good, really hit home.
I work with a group of patient organisations, we are confident that good healthcare is achievable. We improve, we help, we challenge; we understand that medicine needs to be supplemented with good social, practical and emotional support, but we would probably all think that, overall, medicine does more good than harm.
More recently, I have been an intensive user of healthcare – my husband David is seriously ill with cancer; he has been an inpatient, an outpatient, an urgent patient, he has been scanned, and infused, and radiated, and tested, and admitted, and discharged, and all the things modern medicine does.
What’s the best event you’ve ever been to? That’s the question we asked folks at the wonderful WonkComms breakfast club on September 5th. WonkComms is a collaborative project bringing together communications staff working within research institutions and more widely, to provide a space to share experiences and learn from one another. With the promise of coffee, pastries and interesting chats we hot-footed it down to Soapbox HQ to join the conversation. The topic was events, why we’re so attached to traditional formats, and what an alternative could look like.
Last weekend I was standing in the middle of a field in Gloucestershire holding hands with a man I had never met before. I looked into his eye and told him that I cared about him. He looked back at me and told me the same, and I believed him.
It was a powerful moment shared with about 20 other men at the Soul Circus festival, following a talk by Nige Atkinson, author of ‘Odd Man Out: Breaking the Vow of Male Silence’. Through the vulnerable storytelling of his own experiences, he had led us through a raw journey where we looked deep into ourselves and the others in the group, the message being ‘don’t be afraid to speak out’.
My kids love to talk about superpowers — the ability to fly, to heal, to be in two places at once, or to have super-strength. We debate the merits of each one, which combinations we would choose if we could have two, etc.
I’ve come to realise that I have a superpower. We all do.
It’s our ability to connect, in real time, with our virtual colleagues and friends, all the people who have trusted us with their stories, all the people we have helped and who have helped us, even in small ways.
What’s the link between elections since 1945, board games and anthropology? Obvious, isn’t it? The NHS.
A few weeks before the 2017 election a number of people from the NHS, the voluntary sector and thinktanks came together over lunch courtesy of Kaleidoscope to discuss the complicated threeway relationship between the NHS, politicians and the electorate. Anastasia Knox from Britain Thinks kicked us off with some reflections - written of course before the campaigns had run their course.
The NHS was born in the post-war consensus following another election with an unexpected result, Clement Atlee sweeping to power in place of Sir Winston Churchill in 1945. But its formation didn’t go without opposition: not only from politicians, but from the tribes of professionals – in particular doctors – keen to defend their professional independence and status. As the discussion over lunch progressed, it was noticeable that every time we talked about ‘the public’ we used words like ‘them’ and ‘they’. That tribalism showing up again.
Dr Peter Bibawy NHS NE Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group
How can the NHS learn from other sectors? And when our to-do lists are full to bursting, how do we make the time to do so? Over the last two years I’ve had the privilege to be part of the first cohort of fellows with the Forward Institute. Bringing together 65 emerging leaders from across the public, private and social sectors, my cohort included fellows from the British Army, Metropolitan Police, Bank of England among many other organisations.
Such a diversity of people gave fascinating insights into what leadership should mean today.
Clare Allcock NHS Horsham and Mid Sussex and Crawley CCGs
Every year, hundreds of pieces of health and healthcare guidance are published for NHS and local authorities’ to read.
These take many forms: statutory guidance, planning guidance, operating guidance, best practice guidance, or the latest NHS fashion for ‘Forward Views’. These come from government departments, arm’s length bodies, charities, special interest groups – the list goes on.
Having worked for the majority of my career in national policy making I've written many pieces of - what I thought was useful - guidance.
Now I’m on the other side as a CCG commissioner I see how little of it is widely read or has an impact beyond those who are the real enthusiasts. So where guidance has no new money or mandatory elements attached to it, what will make a busy and stressed commissioner in a local authority or CCG turn to guidance and think "Yes! This is so helpful!"?