The ‘golden thread’ of change


Last week’s National Leadership Forum (May 9 & 10) saw HEFMA’s North West Branch welcome expert speakers from the NHS and beyond to Telford for what proved to be an incredible event. Branch Chair Cliff Howell opened the event before introducing Forum host, professional corporate host and compère Peter Emmett. With the theme ‘All Change: On a Track to Recovery’, the golden thread running through the two-day programme was change.

Day One of the Forum opened and closed with two very different high energy and engaging sessions. Dr Phil Hammond delivered an excellent opening Keynote during which he redefined ‘good health’ as being your fitness for purpose for what you want to do with your life. He called for an emphasis on prevention and a move back to honest healthcare. Prevention should start at the very beginning of life – in the womb – and honesty includes those tough conversations about money. 

At the end of Day One, Drew Povey kept delegates on their toes with his motivational session and the five ‘Cs’ of leadership: curiosity, confidence, collaboration, charismatic and change. Drew also stressed that everyone is a leader, and leadership is about influence, not position. 

Between Dr Phil Hammond and Drew Povey, Forum heard about the Patient Experience, from Simon Corben and Peter Handforth, Integrated Care from Alistair Rose and Jonathan Wood, and HEFMA’s core activities over the last 12 months with a panel comprising former National Chairs Kay Mulcahy and Jonathan Stewart, National Interim Chair Geoff Neild and workstream leads Cliff Howell and Liam Casey. 


Patient Experience

Simon Corben discussed his experiences as a Non-Executive Director (NED), reflecting on how he was determined to get estates onto the board agenda and how difficult it is to do that. Among the learning he had to offer from the role is that in general, NEDs care but they are not necessarily from an E&F background, likewise governors are very influential, so get to know your NEDs and governors and put any issues into clear language that reflects any possible outcomes to the operational impact on the hospital. This means short and concise messages.

Peter Handforth gave an emotional account of his own personal experience as a patient, relating that and some of his observations whilst in hospital to what he sees today in the E&F professions. For instance, the obsession with compliance, which is in danger of becoming a tick-box exercise as the engineering knowledge that underpins it becomes lost, along with a fear of being wrong, and policies and procedures that threaten to bury staff under their weight. 


Integrated Care Boards

The message from Alistair Rose was that everyone within the healthcare system needs to start doing things better, together. To this end, support your Integrated Care Board (ICB), play an active part, identify and support the rising stars within your workforce, and think about primary care, because no-one else is. The hospital is the most expensive place in the healthcare system, and it should be there only to treat people who cannot be treated elsewhere.

Jonathan Wood reiterated Alistair’s insistence that it is the people within the system who will have to make change happen. We are in a state of collaboration with ICBs, and it will be necessary to re-set, reform and re-think how those challenges are addressed moving forwards. By working together, we will come up with better solutions.


HEFMA Activities

Among the initiatives discussed in the HEFMA panel session, E&F Day 2024 (June 19) was introduced, with Jonathan Stewart referencing the power of human connections as making the difference. Kay Mulcahy looked back over her tenure as National Chair, talking about collaborative working, harmonising activity, visibility around the Branches, looking after staff and representing HEFMA and its members on national initiatives such as workforce and apprenticeship planning and the NHSE menopause awareness project. She issued a plea for members to become involved with HEFMA’s four core workstreams of digitalisation, sustainability, workforce and compliance, before two of the leads, Cliff Howell and Liam Casey provided more detail about actions taken within their groups.


Awards Dinner

The North West Branch Forum team broke with recent tradition for this event and introduced a speaker for the awards dinner. HEFMA’s 2024 Awards winners were announced at the gala dinner on the evening of Thursday, May 10. After-dinner speaker Stuart Pearce, former Captain of England’s national football team continued with the leadership theme and related it to his own career, which began as an apprentice electrician. There were at least 250 guests in the room, but you could have heard a pin drop, as Stuart held the attention of everyone – football and non-football fans alike.


Legal Services

Nichola Halpin opened the second day’s programme with a session focusing on the legal aspects of E&F services, using a project at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as an example. Liability claims against the Trust had been more than double that of other Trusts of a similar size, with slips/falls, breaches of Health & Safety regulations and assaults being the top three reasons for claims. With collaboration between the Trust’s legal services and E&F, claims have been reduced, bringing benefits for staff and visitors as well as financially. Nichola recommends working with your legal teams, keeping informed about the latest legal requirements, and seeking advice.


Changing the Dynamics

This fascinating session saw qualified nurses Claire Gibson, Laura McConnell, Kara Dulson and Sifo Dlamini explore the role of the E&F Matron and its impact on catering, cleaning and estates services. E&F matrons are providing a bridge for collaboration between clinical and non-clinical teams, enhancing understanding on both sides, offering support where it is needed, challenging the status quo and seeking improvement through a more cohesive approach to future planning and current service provision.


Digital Future

Steven Hipwell discussed the need for interoperability for digital opportunities across Integrated Care, thinking about the whole healthcare economy, now and into the future. He pointed out that in many cases HTMs and other relevant standards for the digital future of the healthcare estate do not yet exist, for example, the use of drones to detect roof leaks. 

Dr Matthew Marson followed, with his view of the smart, digitally-enabled patient journey of the future, using an example of a boy with a broken wrist and presenting a case study featuring the work of a Dublin hospital around understanding how to make the journey through a hospital experience more fun and/or less traumatic for children. This could involve, for instance, digital systems to explain what is happening and to update the patient about where they are in the system in a way that is updatable. 


Media Matters

The final presentation of the Forum programme saw HEFMA’s Jane Renton run through some tips around how to approach media interview requests. She stressed that an interview is not a cosy chat, you are there to deliver key messages and it’s essential to be strategic about what you want to say. It’s also essential to connect with the audience, present your message in a way that will interest them, and above all, be likeable.


The Forum in Figures

In drawing the Forum to a close, Geoff Neild described the event as “excellent.” He summed it up in some of the startling facts and figures that had been shared:

• The first 150-year-old has already been born

• 93% of healthcare takes place away from hospitals, yet that is where most health-related funding is spent

• 80% of the ideas in top performing companies come from the shop floor

• The first century of the current millennium will see the equivalent of 20,000 years of change

• In a 12-month period 3,193 liability claims had cost the NHS £49.2m to settle.

After thanking everyone involved, Geoff looked ahead to the next few months for HEFMA. “This event has been about change, and HEFMA itself is changing and evolving. In the next few months we will have a new Chair and some changes at National Council with new workstream leads coming into post. We need to embrace this change as our next evolutionary step.”

Finally, a date for the diary – HEFMA’s 2025 National Leadership Forum will be held from May 14 – 16, 2025, back in Telford, hosted by the West Midlands Branch and with a theme of ‘Fit for Purpose.’

[Pictured - Stuart Pearce talking about leadership at the Awards dinner]

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