Kate Granger’s legacy is a global brand - the task for the NHS now is to unite and change our culture for the better, says Julian Hartley
Hello, my name is Julian. I say that phrase more than ever all around our hospitals and that is thanks to the influence of one remarkable woman – Dr Kate Granger.
Since Kate’s death was announced, the outpouring of tributes from across the country and globally has been quite amazing. It underlined for me just how much her simple message about a personal approach to communications connected with people everywhere.
This was very much a campaign ‘made in Leeds’, not just because Kate cut her teeth as a junior doctor in our hospitals but because it was also here that, after her devastating diagnosis of terminal cancer, it was Kate’s experience of the lack of that personal touch and empathy in care that started her, quite unexpectedly, on her long crusade.
Kate wanted the campaign to be more than a phrase and an eye-catching logo – she wanted it to lead to permanent behavioural change and better care for patients
I was fortunate enough to meet Kate on a number of occasions and I was constantly struck by the gift she had in communicating what she was thinking in a plain-speaking, straightforward but gentle way, and to speak so matter-of-factly about her illness. She talked to everyone exactly the same and as an individual, not a job title or a qualification, and that was exactly the human approach she wanted others to adopt.
Take the baton
Kate’s campaign started in a small way on Twitter and grew into a phenomenon, which rightly caught the ear of organisations right across the NHS. While this was pleasing for her, and I know how delighted she was to go and speak to groups of staff all over the country, Kate wanted the campaign to be more than a phrase and an eye-catching logo – she wanted it to lead to permanent behavioural change and better care for patients.
The challenge for senior leaders in the NHS is to take the baton from Kate, deliver her aspirations and take these to the next level. #Hellomynameis needs to be more than a phrase we pay lip-service to and an eye-catching logo on a poster. We all need to pledge to live those values in all our actions, each and every day.
I am very proud that since we adopted the principles of Kate’s campaign in 2014, more than 13,000 staff at Leeds Teaching Hospitals have signed up to the values and in return get their own #Hellomynameis badge which all of us wear with great pride. I know Kate was thrilled with this and often tweeted about the campaign here in Leeds and good experiences she had, as well as gently pointing out the times when we sometimes still got it wrong.
This isn’t just a priority for myself and the trust board, it is something staff at all levels in the organisation feel strongly and personally connected to
I am 100 per cent committed to Kate’s values. Each week, when I welcome our new starters to the organisation, the first thing I do is introduce the initiative, tell them about Kate, the difference she has made and what it means for our relationship with patients. At our next staff awards event, we will be introducing The Kate Granger Award in her memory to recognise those who go the extra mile in providing compassionate care for our patients.
This isn’t just a priority for myself and the trust board, it is something staff at all levels in the organisation feel strongly and personally connected to because of our closeness to Kate. It is also a testament to how her message struck a chord with individuals – that people “get it” immediately and can see what a difference it makes.
I have had many conversations with different members of staff who are so touched by Kate’s story and have said how much they want to do their part to deliver her legacy. That’s entirely right as at its heart it is a very personal campaign based on changing the way people talk to each other, and that individual sign-up and commitment is crucial to making a lasting difference.
For organisations, finding a way of delivering real and lasting culture change can seem like searching for the Holy Grail. It isn’t easy and it can’t happen overnight. Here in Leeds we have been keen to ensure #Hellomynameis doesn’t exist in a bubble unrelated to our other activity. Since I came to the trust we have been working with staff right across our organisation to develop The Leeds Way – a set of values developed by and agreed with staff in which we commit to work together in ways that are patient-centred, accountable, collaborative, empowered and fair.
It is embedding well and it is great to hear staff of all levels challenging behaviour that isn’t in line with The Leeds Way – and that includes senior leaders and the executive team. Being patient-centred isn’t just about the perspective of NHS staff on what this means, it is about listening and being inclusive and taking on board the very best ideas out there – which takes us right back to Kate and her legacy.
From small beginnings #Hellomyname is now a global brand. We all have our individual memory of Kate – a brilliant doctor, fundraiser, campaigner and patient-champion – but our real challenge now is to unite across the NHS to listen to her voice and act, to change our culture for the better.
Julian Hartley is chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals trust