New Year, new chances

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As April signified the end of our first year as an Academy, the beginning of our new NHS and a new financial year, I have been reflecting on how much we’ve delivered as a new organisation, and what I have learnt from this busy and challenging time.

At the NHS Leadership Academy, we have come through a busy, and in some ways, difficult first year as an Academy – starting from scratch and working though a year of transition. But, as a team, we have still managed to deliver so much. Whilst setting up the basics, recruiting and getting our organisation running we’ve also delivered a lot of leadership development and we are now in a place where the Academy is formed, our teams are established and our strategy and vision is agreed for the years ahead. We’re about to embark on a huge programme of work (including launching our professional development programmes in May), and I am astounded at how much was achieved. A huge thank you to the staff who made this happen including many who are no longer work with us.

So what have I learned, and what is my advice to new NHS organisations that formed on 1 April 2013?

Start as you mean to go on. Agree your values, common purpose and ways of working, and this will shape the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’ you’re going to do to make a difference. Starting a new organisation from scratch is an ideal opportunity to shape strategy, set values and determine work programmes from the outset.

Next, make sure you focus on the outputs, outcomes and impact you’re working towards. For us at the Academy, our philosophy is simple – better leadership leads to better patient care, experience and outcomes. Our purpose is to work with our partners to deliver excellent leadership across the NHS to have a direct impact on patient care. In everyday business it’s easy to get lost in detail, and as a team, get swamped. But keep your eyes on the overall objectives.

Lastly, keep your heads-up and prepare for the long-term. Although the NHS and the world changes at a rapid pace, it’ll take a good few years to have a real impact, so do not be disheartened by detail in the short-term. That’s not to say much can’t happen in a year –I know great change in a year is possible – but realise you can’t build Rome in a day.

Starting a new organisation is challenging and hard work but presents us with huge opportunities. For those of us working in the NHS, this is to have a real impact on excellent patient care.