Archive for August, 2018

Making healthy progress

Friday, August 24th, 2018

The Health and Care Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) has really come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of years. I spent time working with Health and Care colleagues last week, and it struck me that we have become a single cohesive system for the first time in my experience in Staffordshire.

That’s not to say that everything is fixed and there’s nothing to do – far from it. But we have got a shared narrative and we – NHS commissioners and providers, healthcare professionals and local authorities – have a clear idea of what lies ahead of us. Given Staffordshire’s unenviable reputation in Health circles after Mid-Staffs a decade ago, that is progress indeed.

On substantive measures, Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOCs) are coming down, although not as quickly or consistently as we would like, and Royal Stoke Hospital recently achieved the 4 hour target for A&E for the first time in a long period. We are also making progress with joint commissioning with the CCGs.

Looking forward, we now have a plan to make integrated primary, community and social care a reality in 23 localities across Stoke and Staffordshire. Buildings in and of themselves will not make the outcomes happen, but with the right leadership and efforts, they will make integrated care and digital health a reality with the accompanying benefits to workforce and patients.

Workforce strategy and the importance of good communications

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

SLT had an excellent briefing yesterday on the progress towards the Workforce Strategy, led by our interim head of HR Sarah Getley. Many of you will have been involved in the workshops and interviews to seek your views on what we need to do, and I’m very grateful for your input. I’ll try to give you some feedback in this blog entry and more widely in the coming weeks.

In essence, we are a pretty happy ship, to borrow a phrase, but there’s more that we could do to go from “good to great”. Much of that comes down to some measures which are easy to describe, but much harder to implement.

The most striking aspect was the alignment between the views on communications between managers and their teams. Being absolutely honest, all of us in leadership positions could do better. It was surprising how many of our colleagues, particularly in the younger cohort, are frustrated by our not recognising good performance and perceive an apparent unwillingness to manage poor performance. By that, I don’t mean awards ceremonies or resorting to formal processes, but rather congratulating and thanking colleagues in public when things go well, and having honest conversations in private when things aren’t going as they should.  The same is true of our uptake on the My Performance Conversation (MPC), which despite our best efforts, struggles to get much above 50% uptake. As we implement the Workforce Strategy, we’ll be looking for simplified systems that encourage meaningful communications – after all, the other finding is that you prefer to hear news from your line manager more than by any other means.  Let’s make that happen.

It didn’t come as a surprise that you feel that we spend too much time in meetings, and I have written before in this blog about that very issue. Apparently a snapshot of SLT/WLT/OMT diaries suggest that we spend up to 85% of our working day in meetings.  Let’s have another go at this, but my old measure remains true – if you’re checking your emails while in a meeting, you shouldn’t be there, as clearly there’s something more useful that you could be doing.

Lastly for this blog entry, Smart Working is hugely popular, but there’s clearly more to be done, and it’s more in building trust between leaders and led than in technology or infrastructure. I’ll be giving this more thought in the coming weeks and months, as I will the wider aspects of implementing the Workforce Strategy.

Lots going on in August

Monday, August 6th, 2018

With many of our colleagues enjoying some well-earned rest and recuperation, one might expect that life back in SCC would be quieter.  But there is still a lot going on, and I thought that it might be useful to signal some of the more significant activities that affect us all in this blog entry.

We are working closely with a number of external partners on the digital agenda, and I would ask that you take a bit of time to work out where you fit in to these activities, and engage with them as appropriate.  Firstly, we are well into the implementation of Office 365, the latest version of Microsoft Office.  Risual, a Stafford-based software development company are working closely and very well with us across the organisation, to ensure that we get the maximum benefit from this new package.  There are new tools and techniques that we will be using to take us to the next stage in our Smart Working journey.  Have a look at the new package, have a chat with the Change Champion in your area, and think about how you could use this.  For example, is there an another way of holding meetings, rather than face to face, using Teams and Skype?  If you’ve got a good idea, make sure that we hear about it – if you’re not sure to whom to send it, send it to me.

Secondly, we have digital specialists Rainmaker assisting us with identifying and landing digital projects, particularly in the adult social care area.  We have carefully selected them for their record of practical achievement in other local authorities, government departments and private sector businesses, but we must engage with them closely and keep us all focused on delivery.  There is always a temptation for this type of work to default towards working in the strategic sphere, as it is more enjoyable and has more freedom – painting on clouds as a General for whom I once worked put it rather dismissively – but the hard part is making things work in the real world.  We’ve got a good strategy which we’ve worked hard to produce over the past year; now we need to make the jump to the tactics and the delivery.

Thirdly among a large number of other projects, I would highlight the progress towards the Workforce Strategy.  I have been hearing very positive reports from people who have been taking part in the sessions with Sue Evans and our own team from HR.  We will have a first draft coming together in next few weeks, with a view to taking it to Cabinet in October for formal approval.  This is quite rapid progress, and I’m really pleased with it.  Many thanks to all of you who have given your time to ensure that we hear your views, as the important thing with this project is that we collectively feel a sense of ownership.  It is, after all, the basis on which we and our successors will operate as colleagues to support the residents of Staffordshire.

Lastly, if you are planning a holiday in the coming weeks, I hope that you, your family and friends have a relaxing break.