We would like to address the recent programme 'Can Gerry Robinson fix the NHS?' and the comments made in return by Brian James, Chief Executive of Rotherham Foundation Trust.
On the whole we felt that the programme gave a balanced and accurate picture of management in the NHS and have been inspired by the changes that Sir Gerry achieved. In 6 months Sir Gerry achieved not only service developments and improvements but more importantly, he achieved the engagement and empowerment of staff at all levels. Something that appeared to be fundamentally lacking in any number of staff groups represented in the programme, not just a few disgruntled consultants.
For Brian James to have dismissed this as focusing on the tabloid fodder of NHS staff versus NHS managers, is dangerous and misleading. The programme strongly suggested that Rotherham has an issue in staff engagement and motivation. This was conversely seen to be accurate when Brian became involved with certain projects and the staff's obvious delight at this. The empowerment that Brian lent to his staff by being involved with projects proved that service developments, with the right guidance and leadership, do not need to take two years at a time. They can be achieved quickly and efficiently, and this was particularly inspirational.
However, in the managers involved defence, the programme did not begin to touch on the achievements and pressures faced every day. Last year HSJ reported that middle managers in the NHS felt levels of stress that were pathological.
It would have made for more interesting viewing and accuracy to see what the 'day jobs' of these managers were and the challenges of trying to undertake service changes within non-existent time resources. Because, unfortunately, the 'day job' does not stop to allow immediate time commitment and maybe that is where the issue lies - not enough managers in the NHS despite what the tabloids suggest.
Also, in Brian James' defence, the programme did not give enough credit for the achievements that Brian had made within a short 18 month time scale. To achieve financial balance and foundation trust status are challenging undertakings, and ones that Brian James should be given due credit for.
In conclusion however, the letter written by Brian James during programming and the subsequent comments made in HSJ seem defensive and accusatory rather than using this an opportunity for change, challenge and improvement in staff morale and engagement.
Kerry O'Hara, Associate Service Manager, Critical Care & Clinical Support Services, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trustand Louise Westcott, Medicine, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.
Where is the leader?
Having read Mr James' statement, I can only conclude that Gerry Robinson cant fix the NHS because the NHS doesnt want to get fixed.
It strikes me that Rotherham is adequately managed, but nothing about Brian Jamess performance (albeit to camera and therefore rather artificial) convinces me that Rotherham is in the hands of an inspirational leader!
Julia Hobbs, Owner/Managing Director, Swift Health Promotions