Celebrating our successes

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Last week I was thinking a lot about how we recognise and celebrate the work of outstanding individuals in our healthcare system.

This was triggered by my attendance to the inspiring Academy-run NHS Leadership Recognition Awards ceremony, which we held last Monday evening. The Academy runs the awards to recognise and showcase the very best of leadership practice and extraordinary talent from all corners of the system.

And what a showcase it was. The 2012 winners’ stories really brought home to us just what can be achieved through outstanding leadership at all levels and from across the system. Here were leaders who had transformed entire services, innovators who have led on cutting-edge breakthroughs and teams that have improved outcomes for thousands of patients.

Why shouldn’t we celebrate this fantastic sort of achievement that has created such tangible benefits for patients?

I ask this because I’ve come to realise that we often don’t take the time to stop and acknowledge achievements that are creating big, positive change.

This is especially the case in our health system, where pressures of busy and demanding work environments mean we’re usually thinking about what’s not going so well rather than what is. It seems that pointing out shortcomings in the system has become the norm, and celebrating and recognising achievement isn’t something that comes easy.

And this is down to more than just the British trait of downplaying achievement and success. I think this is a specific and chronic issue in our healthcare system and one that we should absolutely try and change.

Not only do schemes like the NHS Leadership Recognition Awards enable patients and the public to develop greater confidence in the service that they fund and rely on, they also showcase good and effective practice. They highlight new, efficient and innovative ways of working that others can learn from and be inspired by.

That’s what makes them so worthwhile and exciting. They create a standard of excellence and professionalism that people can aspire to. And they enable others to look in and say ‘that’s a great idea, let’s make it work here’.

As the year draws to a close, I hope you have had the chance to celebrate the achievements of extraordinary colleagues around you.  Please do share your thoughts via Twitter at @JanSobieraj and @NHS Leadership.