Another 400…

Another 400... NHS_Training_in_Primary_Care_General_Practice

Today is a very important day for communication specialists and press officers, everywhere.

The 15th June is Fly-a-Kite Day, they do a lot of that.

Actually, it celebrates the anniversary, of the day, in 1752 when Benjamin Franklin flew a kite and discovered something about electricity. It is the 166th day of the year. James Hunt, racing driver, died on this day as did Ella Fitzgerald.

It is also ‘Nature Photography Day’ and National Smile Power Day.

That’ll do for me… National Smile Power Day… because today, I am smiling.

On my lips I have one of those smiles that pushes the bottom lip, up, into the top lip and is accompanied by a little nod of the head. 

A knowing nod. It’s a look that says; I know something you don’t and it is an occasion for a wry smile, perhaps a touch rueful.

Rueful in that the smile is about how time has flown and the private knowledge, that I have let so much of it slip through my fingers.

Ten years ago this week, after a few dummy runs, the nhsManager’s eLetter was born. With a mailing list of 20 or so friends. 

I started it because I wanted the front-line to be at least as well informed as the boardroom. To know what’s going on and to start a daily conversation about what’s what and what’s not.

Ten years later, without a break. Here we are. I remember publishing from a bed in Frimley Park Hosptial, from a boat in the Med, from around the world. Writing on laptops, borrowed PC’s, tablets and mobile phones. In my study, other people’s offices, the back of taxis, restaurants and the day The Duchess died.

From 20 friends, now, in a week, across all social medial and other platforms, we reach close on 300,000 inboxes. I’d like to count them as friends… even the ones I irritate!

With me from the start has been Dr Paul Lambden. A friend from the days when we thought Trust hospitals and Fundholding would change the NHS forever.

Today, we publish Paul’s 400th, Medicine for Manager’s article, which is a hell-of-a milestone.

Ten years ago relationships between doctors and managers were very different. I know they are not always perfect now but back in-the-day, it was tricky.

Mrs Thatcher had commissioned the boss of Sainsbury’s, Roy Griffiths, to write a report on how the NHS was run and managed. It was excoriating.

Later came the Thatcher reforms, that tried to create an atmosphere of operational freedom in exchange for some business-like rigour.

Medics felt threatened and managers, often inexperienced, could be heavy handed.

Managers and medics needed a bridge, trying for a better understanding of each other’s problems. The eLetter tried to contribute to doing that and central was Paul Lambden’s column, Medicine for Managers.

Paul is a doctor and a dentist, who also ran a Trust hospital. He brings a unique understanding of the NHS with all its success and challenges.

Explaining in simple terms, the complexity of modern medicine, the challenges, the pitfalls, the risks… Paul Lambden agreed to write the column and here we are, ten years later and 400 articles. A huge body of work. From bunions to bypass surgery.

He is our most popular columnist. I know he gets fan mail!  I can measure the downloads of his work and in total, it is nudging a million.

Single handedly he has made managers better informed. Explained that medicine is a risky business, takes skill, knowledge, courage and a huge understanding of people and their fears and foibles.

It’s both a science and art-form and takes a special gift to unravel all that, lay it out and place it before the likes of you and me, so that we can understand more of the mysteries of medicine and the challenges it presents.

It also takes a lot of keeping-up-with. Paul has written things that have been rewritten over the years, to keep pace with medical science and developments. 

Thank you Paul…

We’ve spoken about stopping. I said I’d stop, when he does and he said he’d stop, when I do. 

So, if it’s all the same to you, we’ll try for another four hundred.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley
Contact Roy – please use this e-address
Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.