What makes a good week for a hospital chief executive? Well, as I’ve just had one, here’s my view on some of the key ingredients.

Learning what’s being done to drive up quality and then hearing from patients how great some of our services are is right up there in terms of my feel-good factor.

The other thing that’s put a smile on my face is knowing that the wise words of a top ‘improvement’ consultant have turned into action here at St George’s.

Like many people, I can be a bit sceptical about ‘gurus’ because what’s said always sounds great but once they’ve left, moving from the PowerPoint to the patient is not always easy.

And it’s even harder when what’s said is on the ethereal rather than the practical side.

That’s because we get a bit immersed in Gantt charts, spreadsheets and project plans at the NHS. All very good for keeping everyone up to speed but what about the emotional input?

What?? What??

Yes, I’m as surprised to type that as you are to read it. The über-enlightening Helen Bevan (@helenbevan) talked up the importance of ‘shared purpose’ at our improvement showcase last week. Personal passion, we heard, is what it’s all about.

A room of clinicians and managers is unlikely to be convinced by such sentiments alone. So what followed Helen’s opening gambit was great – thorough research and statistics (hurrah) to prove her point.

And if I had any doubt left at all – the stories we then heard of services being successfully redesigned showed that the time spent on the ‘why’ really helped the how.

The next – and surely most vital step – is ensuring that changes bring benefits to patients. Success should not be judged on deadlines and savings alone.

A fascinating robotic surgery demo also took place last week. Patients were queuing up to tell me how wonderful the service was – fewer days in hospital, negligible blood loss, faster recovery, smaller wounds. What’s not to like?

Of course there were business cases and paperwork a-plenty to help this happen. Our robots account for around £2m after all.

But without the huge sense of ‘shared purpose’ this project would have stalled or never got off the ground.

So, thanks for sharing, as they say.



If you would like to comment on the topic you can email me at communications@stgeorges.nhs.uk.