Purpose…

Honestly... NHS_Training_in_Primary_Care_General_Practice

The NHS; targets, guidance (really just ‘must-do’s’), regulations, inspections, controls, bungs, beatings and a top-down environment that went out with the Ark.

Just about everything it can do, to get the best out of people… it doesn’t.

I see voluptuous, mission-statements pinned on walls and projected in PowerPoints.  Most front-line staff, doing the job, have no idea what they are.  

They’re the product of an away-day, painfully long, a statement of compromise and a bit of something for everyone… boards, managers, clinicians, resources and… oh, patients ‘at the centre of everything we do’… like charging a tenner to park their cars.

Mission statements are not motivational, seldom memorable and designed to make vanilla seem exciting.

Forget them. Try; 

‘We exist to care for people in the way we would like to be cared for ourselves.’

It’s pinched from Matthew 7:12.  Speaking as a born-again-pagan, it’s the best mission statement I’ve seen.  

I’m not alone.  Versions have existed in the classic literature of Greece and Rome, as well as in Islamic, Taoist, Sikh and other religious texts.

Boards will soon come under enormous pressure to stem the flow of NHS people who leave, ‘before their time’.  A mission to keep people.  As the Academy of Fabulous Stuff will tell you, some are better at it than others.

Beware of employers with resilience policies.  It means if they exhaust you, you’re responsible for sorting yourself out.  If you work for one… it’s ok to leave! 

Full-Fact tells us;

‘…In the year to June 2011, 50% of nursing staff, who had a reason for leaving, recorded ‘voluntarily resigned’. By year ending June 2018, this had increased to 63%.

In total, around a third of voluntary resignations between June 2010 and 2018 did not have a specific reason for them recorded. 

Around a quarter were listed as being due to relocation and around one in five cited ‘work life balance’. 

Just under one in ten resigned for reasons relating to promotion.

Looking at the increase in the number of nurses and health visitors resigning between the year ending June 2010 and 2018, the largest component of the increase were resignations due to relocation and ‘work life balance’.

What does this say to us?  The headlines tell us nothing.  Any sensible business would be doing forensic exit interviews.  The NHS is not any ‘sensible business’.

Work life balance… what does it mean?  Not sufficiently flexible, unrealistic pressures or I’m leaving to look after granny?  All of which, could be fixed by a clever employer.

Same goes for promotion.  If a hospital, employing thousands of nurses, hasn’t got a career path and a creative, staff-development programme, the Board deserves all it gets.

Relocation.  I don’t believe the numbers.  Does anyone check out future reference applications and tie the two, together?

If we want to keep people, we have to put things in place to keep them.

Why do people work in the NHS.  Dunno… ask them.  But, I’ll guess.

Most NHS people have spent their formative years studying and learning.  It’s a habit.  NHS people are probably the most qualified workforce in the country.  They like to attain new skills.  So, access to training is important.

There’s a status about the professions.  I’m a nurse, I’m a doctor, I’m a healthcare professional.  Fostering a sense of professionalism plays into a sense of worth and that means recognition.

A hospital is more than an employer.  It is a huge chunk of the local economy and probably the largest local employer.  That must mean something?  Creating a sense of belonging, involvement, commitment, relevance, a connection.  Working with and for the community.  

Vocation?  It’s been hijacked.  Used in the context of an expectation that people will do more, regardless of how they are treated.  The job is bigger than the work… it’s not.

With vocation comes a desire to master a skill, to become an expert and with it, the direct power to influence the people we work with, the people we serve. A big part of leadership.

A few paragraphs of the obvious?  Maybe but they’re often overlooked.  Training, status, community, belonging, vocation, leadership… all those things. 

For me they’re how we put ‘purpose’ into the NHS, it’s work and key to understanding how we treat each other.

If we are to keep people, we must understand motives, reasons, ‘the point’ and above all purpose.  

We must move beyond mission, into The Era of Purpose.

News and Comment from Roy Lilley

Contact Roy – please use this e-address roy.lilley@nhsmanagers.net

Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.