The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

From recommendation to reality

Sheffield CCG has published its long-awaited improvement plan, five months after a critical independent review of the organisation was published, amid allegations of bullying and “toxic” culture. 

The plan pledges to bring forward a review of the CCG’s whistleblowing policy and give more support to staff pursuing bullying and harassment cases; the original investigation found there was dissatisfaction over handling of such concerns raised by staff.

The improvement plan was far-reaching and also includes recommendations to undertake a skills audit of the executive team and review the governing body constitution.

New interim accountable officer Lesley Smith said the CCG delayed the plan’s publication to give them time to “carefully respond to the issues raised” and said she recognised not everyone has had a positive experience of working at the CCG.

With a new chair expected to be appointed later this year, it’s now in the CCG leadership’s hands to make the ambitious improvements set out in the plan a reality. 

Not so feelgood

Anyone who goes on Twitter will be familiar with the barrage of feel-good leadership hashtags that bounce around the NHS echo chamber.

Some love it, some get irked by it.

In the latter camp is Donna Hall, the newly arrived chair of Bolton Foundation Trust, who says all these “trendy relational models” often go unpractised.

In a comment piece written for HSJ, she said: “We see on the Twitter accounts of some NHS and council system leaders their promotion of trendy relational models based on kindness, humanity and trust.

“But we know, in reality, this doesn’t exist in their own organisations.

“Top down, competitive, fear and blame-driven sovereign cultures exist and positively thrive in many teams unchallenged.

“The modelling of these behaviours in real life, not just on social media, is harder to do in reality in a world of ‘never events’, ‘near misses’, ‘stranded patients and super stranded patients’ and the four-hour target.”

She reckons her trust, which was recently rated “outstanding” for leadership, is different from others, with the “quiet, intelligent [and] humble” style of chief executive Dr Jackie Bene permeating the organisation.

Ms Hall recently joined the trust after 15 years as a local authority chief executive in Chorley and Wigan. She also had a short spell as accountable officer for Wigan Clinical Commissioning Group.