#ImInWorkJeremy Campaign – Can we change the rhetoric @Jeremy_Hunt ? #NHS staff are Burning out!

So, I feel that I must blog about the #ImInWorkJeremy twitter campaign, which is currently in full force following Jeremy Hunts call for a #7dayNHS. Firstly, I believe that everyone is on the same page in terms of wanting the safest patient care possible. However, I am not so sure that the health and well being of NHS staff is being as valued at present, which as we all know, is surprising given the direct correlation that #NHS staff health has with the quality of patient care.

NHS staff are tweeting this weekend about how they are already working and keeping patients safe. They are doing so largely without breaks, food or a stress free environment – THANK YOU!

However, 65% of NHS staff have attended work when they have felt unwell enough to do so. I am concerned that this is not conducive to safe and effective quality patient care. If more pressure is put on NHS staff to perform for longer/harder hours, how will this statistic be affected? and how will that impact upon patient care? Will we find problems with the Wednesday service if we prop up the Sunday service? How can we deliver a #7dayNHS with more doctors if we don’t also have more nurses/midwives and support staff?

The challenges to achieve this are many… and it is clear by the many tweets I have seen this weekend that a #7dayNHS is already happening….

So why does Jeremy Hunt want NHS staff to work more unsociable hours? Well he has claimed that “Around 6,000 people lose their lives every year because we do not have a proper 7-day service in hospitals.” Yet there are further claims that there is yet to be a source for this claim. Confused yet?

I think the real problem here is that NHS staff may have been made to feel like naughty children who are being told what to do to make things better, rather that being inspired and carried forward by strong leadership. Everybody wants to make the NHS the best it can be. We are on the same team, so why have NHS staff been made to feel devalued?

The Secretary of State for Health (Jeremy Hunt Himself) asked Lord Rose to conduct a review into leadership in the NHS. The review asked:

  • what might be done to attract and develop talent from inside and outside the health sector into leading positions in the NHS?
  • how could strong leadership in hospital trusts might help transform the way things get done?
  • how best to equip clinical commissioning groups to deliver the Five Year Forward View

This review reported that: “First, the NHS consistently delivers great service through a committed and passionate workforce of 1.38m staff in England . During my Review I heard many great stories (only a few not so great). Mostly I found staff motivated and focused, often running on goodwill in a tough environment; some places felt more positive than others.”

This was great to hear! Our NHS staff are being praised for the amazing work they do! Praised for the service they provide and acknowledged for the sacrifices they make to do so. We are all on the same page to do good things. The service is great! But yes, the environment is tough Jeremy..tougher than you may think it is….NHS hospitals are pushing young medics to brink of ‘burnout’ by relying on them to work extra hours…NHS staff want to work towards an even better service, but they need support in doing this, not be whipped and forced into doing so. Picking a fight is not in anyone’s best interest.

We know that engaging NHS staff will improve patient care and staff absenteeism ….so Jeremy I ask you…can we change the rhetoric here? Can we engage staff in this conversation rather than isolate them? They need to feel valued, inspired and driven in order to perform at their best. There is now an Outcry in the blogging community, calling for Jeremy Hunt to resign… However, I think what may be needed here is a new narrative, where staff feel valued and empowered to engage with the vision for the future NHS services alongside you, rather than feeling as though they are being dragged by their pigtails.

We are on the same team… Let’s be kind to each other.


Doctors under pressure need resilience, not mental toughness

The GMC’s #gooddoctor event is happening in Newcastle today – This blog post has so many powerful messages for creating healthy doctors. I am happy to see the GMC take this cause in a positive direction today, and to see that resilience is not necessarily about being mentally ‘tough’…Re-blogging this in support of the cause 🙂

Improving medical education and practice across the UK

Following heated debates in the medical press and social media about the value of resilience training for medical students and doctors, this blog and the GMC’s #gooddoctor event in Newcastle on 16th July on the theme of resilience, provide an opportunity to put the record straight.

I am a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of the not for profit social enterprise ‘Connecting with People’. Connecting with People has pioneered a strategic, evidenced based approach to suicide prevention, emotional wellbeing and mental health awareness, combining compassion and governance

We contributed to Sarndrah Horsfall’s external review of doctors who die by suicide whilst under GMC investigation. We suggested that medical students and doctors would benefit from emotional resilience training and that staff with line manager responsibility would benefit from mental health awareness training. We also suggested that everyone should know how to respond compassionately to others in distress and…

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A summary of the Maternity Midwifery & Baby Conference 2015 #maternity2015

Healthier midwives for healthier families, Maternity2015 Conference Seminar 10

So this year, I had the privilege once more of presenting seminar number 10 at the Maternity Midwifery and Baby Conference: London, 2015. In 2013 I presented some work here on the digital future of maternity services, and I was happy to find that the conference still has the same feel of hope and vision for the future of maternity services.

It is a place to bring new innovations, new ideas and passion to the midwifery profession. I was enamored to see the lust for a bright future in new midwifery students, and also in awe of the wisdom and strong leadership shown by those in midwifery who see the big picture.

I led the seminar entitled Healthier midwives for healthier families: designing a solution to support midwives through psychologically traumatic professional events–>> See the podcast of my seminar here (You can also download the documents of my presentation here).

The most overwhelming part of the day was seeing the seminar room fill up with people and nearly spill out of the door to hear my presentation. This tells me that I do not share a passion for this subject alone. Far from it. Thank you for giving me the confidence I needed to reinforce my belief in this project. It is important, and I hope it will make a difference. Thank you also to those of you who volunteered to become involved in this research. I hope to contact you in the early autumn.


I am always keen to network and learn from others. This conference changed the way I view our ongoing maternity services. New challenges face the maternity services every day, and staff are only too keen to face that challenge. Yet it was sad to hear comments where those under pressure continue to speak negatively about leadership and management. This conversation needs to change.

The conference was led, driven and summarized by Sue Macdonald, Midwifery Consultant. I think we can all aspire to lead the way as she did at the conference. Her enthusiasm went viral.

The biggest lessons I learnt from this day was that midwives are midwives. Whether you are a labour ward midwife, a research midwife, lecturer, clinical manager or policy making midwife. You are a midwife, and that identity is important to you. Bernie Divall’s seminar made a real impact upon my own work as I move through my own doctoral research into the well being of midwives and look for what opportunities the future may have in store for me. We must support all midwives in what ever ‘midwifery path’ they choose to take. Whatever that path may be, they are still a midwife. Do you ever really stop being a midwife??? One thing is certain, there is no clear definition of what a good midwife actually is! (Borelli, 2014).

Therefore, we must continue to value the individual contribution each midwife makes towards the maternity services. No contribution is better or worse than the other, and no single contribution makes you any less of a midwife.

Clinically, I learnt so much from Stephanie Michaelides, Senior Lecturer , Middlesex University Did you know that sunflower oil is now recommended for the newborn skin rather than olive oil? I have downloaded her slides for future reference.

And then for pure inspirational visionary measure, we had the amazing Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Head of Maternity, NHS England Nursing Directorate -> Stretching midwifery horizons. I love her positive vision, motivational rhetoric and inclusive leadership style. I could listen and learn from her for hours.

Whilst Dianne Garland, Midwifery Consultant just shows us how midwifery should be. All of the time. All over the world. Global midwifery has always been a passion of mine as I look to see how other parts of the world deliver birth. Dianne takes this to another level as she works at a grass roots level to deliver and disseminate best practice. This reminded me of my own midwifery experiences in The Gambia and Ethiopia. I was fascinated to  hear her speak about her experiences in China.

I very much hope to return to this conference again… next time I hope to have a new story to tell and a new part of this research to share. Until then, be kind to yourselves, and each other.

Watch the full conference here

Borrelli, S. E. (2014). What is a good midwife? Insights from the literature.Midwifery, 30(1), 3-10.