Friday I came into work full of the joys of spring, the weather here has cooled off but it was bright and sunny, a really nice day. I was looking forward to the meetings I had scheduled in my diary; planning the agenda for a diversity ‘retreat’ in the American term for an away day which I will be facilitating, and a discussion about a diversity survey and mentoring programme I have designed since I’ve been here. I turned my computer on and opened my first email. I was shocked to read that Jim Easton had resigned! I was dumbstruck, for lots of reasons but not least because Jim was here in Boston two weeks ago and I’d had a very positive and productive meeting with him about the way forward for the equalities agenda.
Some of you will know that Jim has been my mentor for the last 3 years or so and I have been fortunate enough to get to know him quite well. I was always impressed by his intellect, he is incredibly clever but along with that cleverness is humbleness, compassion and a willingness to learn. I found him to be a genuinely nice bloke that wanted the best for the NHS. The QIPP agenda is not for the faint hearted and when he took on responsibility for the Equalities agenda too, he really did have his hands full. People like me, sitting at the lower levels of the organisation can only imagine the pressure on senior people to deliver on targets and achieve good results. I talked about that in a previous blog with reference to Obama.
The NHS is going through an unprecedented period of change and lots of us are seeing many colleagues and friends leave the service. It’s hard to envisage the NHS without some of them, along with the changes and challenges we are experiencing, it is making life in the NHS hard going. The expectations of the general public and the politicians are that we continue to deliver and continue to provide a high quality service for patients. It is incredibly challenging at the best of times, even more so in these circumstances. This is where high quality leadership comes in. People talk a lot about leadership but it is absolutely vital to have good leadership in these trying and testing times. We need leaders who are understanding, empathetic, and conscious of the impact that large scale change has on staff and ultimately the service. The NHS Leadership Academy is tasked with developing leaders for the future as well as ensuring that leaders understand the need to motivate and inspire staff. It’s a big task in current circumstances but essential if the NHS is to continue to deliver on its objectives.
Being in Boston means I have been a bit disconnected from the NHS for the last 4 weeks. The news about Jim brought it all back into stark relief; the NHS world has not stopped revolving because I am not there! I am an NHS leader and as such have a responsibility to support and help the system I have worked in for many years. Putting the changes at home to the back of my mind and enjoying the fall (autumn) here in New England is great in the short term, however in 2 weeks’ time I’ll be at home and back to my role as Senior Programme Lead, Leadership for Equalities in the Academy. It is my intention to continue to support colleagues to deliver what I know is the best healthcare service in the world during what we all acknowledge is a very difficult time.
Jim, I wish you well….