Growing stronger

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With all the talk of the NHS’s 65th birthday celebrations, I can’t help but be reminded of the Abraham Heschel quote: “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”

Being 65 often symbolises retirement for some but for the NHS, and certainly for us at the Academy, we’re just getting started. We (the NHS) have grown, adapted and developed in numerous ways. Francis was a turning point in our lives, and so is the week of our birthday. Only days ago the application process for our suite of professional development programmes closed. In the 8 weeks they were open we received almost 7000 applications from staff across the system who want to develop, grow and enhance their knowledge to become exceptional leaders and ultimately improve patient care.

These 7000 people are at turning points in their careers. I admire their passion and their drive – they are exactly why we are here. This is the first cohort for our Edward Jenner, Mary Seacole, Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson and Nye Bevan programmes and the excitement and passion we have seen from members across healthcare has exceeded even our own enthusiasm for the work. It has also been a humbling reminder of the huge task we have here – there is a need and a thirst out there for improvement. It’s a confirmation that people really do care and are committed to investing their time to develop both themselves as leaders but to ensuring they create a caring and compassionate environment for both patients and their colleagues.

The NHS is there for patients but is made by its’ people. I’m making an assumption that those in the caring profession go into it for one main reason – they want to have that positive impact on people’s lives, health and wellbeing. Karen Lynas is running a Twitter campaign at the moment – 65 reasons why we love the NHS – and a lot of the reasons are coming back to the compassion of frontline staff – those who face many challenges on a day to day basis and without much recognition.

This is the kindness I admire – and the kindness we should recognise. At the heart of the Academy ethos, every member of staff is important and has the potential to create a lasting impact within a wider group. Our programmes recognise this, as do our Leadership Recognition Awards that are open for nominations at the moment.

So, after 65 years? The system is experienced, but is still learning. We look forward to the next 65 years and the next 7000 applicants. Together, we are building great leadership and improving patient care, compassion and kindness.