Motivation, the Blithering way


In which Sir Trevor Longstay seeks recognition for his compassionate style of leadership and Roy Lilley nearly causes the death of David Rummage

“Do your best, Plackard,” said Sir Trevor Longstay.

The ageing knight of the realm and leader of Better Off Together Community Healthcare, NHS Blithering’s aspiring integrated care provider, was smiling, but his tone was menacing.

“Of course, Sir Trevor,” replied the country’s leading healthcare-related communications professional, looking far from convinced.

The previous year, Longstay had been named Inspirational Leader of the Year by the HSJ, which had been a considerable PR coup for Plackard and a humiliating experience for everyone else, when a clearly inebriated Sir Trevor used his acceptance speech to berate the audience and insult the editor.

Later he had to be escorted from the building after female delegates complained about behaviour unbecoming in an inspirational leader.

Plackard tried to explain that the chances of a second award this year were slim.

“But it’s a different award, man,” declared Sir Trevor.

Plackard wore the expression of a man whose scalp had suddenly and unexpectedly shrunk, causing minor disruption to his face. “Yes, I agree that you would normally be a perfect candidate for a Compassion in Leadership award, but I wonder if, in the circumstances…”

He tailed off.

Sir Trevor frowned. “Meaning what, exactly?” he demanded.

Dr David Rummage looked up from his phone. “The sackings, the allegations of bullying, the hectoring emails, the rumours of punishment beatings,” he suggested.

Sir Trevor shrugged.

“We didn’t tolerate allegations in my day,” he said.

The meeting broke to allow people to pretend to answer urgent emails and to smoke in the car park.

Rummage returned with a plate of Hobnobs – a gift from Roy Lilley. “Came with some teabags. Roy even signed the packet,” he explained. There were murmurs of admiration for the biscuits, the teabags and their generous donor.

When the meeting came to order, Myra Scope, strategic lead for engagement, impact and experience, outlined her plans for new virtual recognition and reward programmes.

Scope had been responsible for the Towards Excellence scheme, where patients were invited to nominate staff for Simply Doing Their Jobs or for Being Nice to Me When I Was Ill.

Towards Excellence had become a national programme with a personal endorsement from Simon Stevens. Now she had some new ideas.

The board soon agreed that Blithering Stars was the most promising. Frontline professionals who went the extra mile to get to work when it was raining could earn Thank You for Caring credits and extra followers on social media.

Scope explained how having gold stars to stick on their fridges would boost the morale of staff who didn’t feel valued in their jobs or hadn’t had a decent pay rise in years.

Rummage chuckled and helped himself to a biscuit.

Scope went on to outline her Making a Difference scheme for the mental health trust, but agreed to go back to the drawing board after being advised that it didn’t shorten well.

There was a brief pause while medical help was summoned for Rummage, whose attempts to stifle laughter during a critical phase of Hobnob ingestion had ended badly.

After the paramedics had gone, Plackard took the opportunity to point out the PR risks faced by those planning health campaigns. He reminded colleagues that the initial good press for the Blithering Health Champions scheme had been spoilt by the video evidence of drug-taking at the first Wellbeing Summit. The pub brawl after a chance meeting of rival gangs of Blithering Flu Fighters had also attracted unfortunate headlines.

The meeting ended with a vote to find out if Sir Trevor had shown inclusive and compassionate leadership. The enthusiastic show of hands demonstrated clearly that he had.

Editor: Julian Patterson


Reproduced at by kind permission of Julian Patterson.