Quick post from me. Today there is another NHS support programme being launched, the latest is #theEdgeNHS
‘The Edge is brought to you by the Horizons Group of NHS Improving Quality. The Horizons Group is a small team operating at the edge of current thinking and practice of change and transformation in health and care. Its remit is about sharing the disruptive power of connecting to influence change, leading edge knowledge, transformation and innovation. The aim is to support colleagues in health and care to think differently about the ‘rules of change’ and make sense of it in their own context, leading to effective change practice and better outcomes for patients’
I’ve written before about my experience and concerns of these NHS leadership or support programmes. I have always been sceptical of any organised responses, my natural preference is to usually be outside the crowd. Too much conformity makes me nervous. However my thinking has moved on hugely in the last twelve months, mostly due to my exposure to the dirty reality of life for Sara Ryan and her family following their son’s preventable death. I am aware enough to know that Sara’s experience and LB’s death is just one experience, you could say one anecdote, however the messages that we have received since we started the JusticeforLB campaign would suggest that it’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. I’m not going to use this post to talk about the campaign, you can find out about it here, or about the draft #LBBill launched yesterday to try and really change where the edge is when it comes to support given to learning disabled people, you can find out about that here.
I’d like to just draw your attention to this excellent talk given by Anne Marie Cunningham in Canada at a medical education conference last week:
It’s an hour long, so find time and grab a brew, but it is brilliant. Anne Marie talks about how social media has, and can, change the way that doctors are trained. She also talks about how it can be used badly, my favourite slide on this:
I’m interested in The Edge, I’ll watch and see how it develops. It was suggested that it might be useful for campaigns, based on this page I’m not so sure. All of these suggestions appear to be about campaigning, within the constraints you’re facing. I’m not sure the focus should be on rocking a boat without falling out, I’d like to see a few more people within the NHS standing up, getting out of their boat, and swimming with those who were thrown over the cliff edge a long time ago.
This is not to say it is all bad or deeply flawed. I suspect it will genuinely offer something to many people who work, and potentially feel trapped, within the NHS. I applaud it for that. I can not imagine how hard life must be for some of those people, especially those who raise concerns or blow whistles within the system, only to be ostracised and scapegoated. If The Edge will help with that, improve the wellbeing of those people, then it has a place.
What I can not see is how it can help those who the NHS has really destroyed. Those who it continues to destroy. Those who need it more and have no resources, HR departments or salary to support them. The aim, as articulated above on their website, is ‘to help colleagues’ so please can we not pretend everyone can join the conversation, why would anyone want to put the effort into climbing the cliff edge to join a conversation at the top that will benefit the system that is so quick to kick them back over the edge once they’re too controversial or too skilled at shining a torch on the dysfunction that exists within the NHS?
If we really want better outcomes for patients, then we need to start genuinely coproducing with them. If you really want to bring ‘patient leaders and front line change activists’ into things, then a professionally led campaign from within the NHS is unlikely to cut it.
I’m going to stop now and I wish The Edge success. I also wish people could be honest and open about what it is seeking to provide and how realistic its approaches are in that. I’ll leave you with some recommended reading of my own! The context for why this presentation was put together is here.