Rock Star


News and Comment from Roy Lilley.

I fear I have bad news.  As unwelcome as it might be, I have to tell the truth.  There is a myth that must be bust…

There is a common belief, a widely held view; Sir Andrew Morris, outgoing chief executive of Fabulous Frimley, is a paragon of exemplary leadership.

He is not.

Most people think he is simpatico with his organisation.  Tuned in, switched on and listening.  Reading the runes.  Seeing the signs.

Not so.

I am nervous about revealing Sir Andrew as a fraud.  I know he is regarded as an icon of the modern health service.  I fear it’s over… his reputation in ruins.

I am here to tell you, he does not know what is going on in his organisation.  He has no idea.  I can reveal his executive has been subverted.  The management diverted.

Unbeknown to the all-seeing Morris his organisation has gone feral.  This is the kind of lapse that can only be described as poor leadership, enough to topple this proud organisation from its spot as England’s top Trust.  

The shocking truth; for months his colleagues have worked behind his back; selling tickets and secretly organising a fabulous farewell dinner and dance.

He was oblivious.

Last Saturday, thinking he was to attend a charity performance of Vivaldi, Sir Andrew and Lady Morris, en famille, turned up at a swish country house venue, sporting black tie and elegant gowns.

When he walked into the room, as one, three hundred people, who for months had schemed, bought tickets and kept their mouths shut, rose to their feet and applauded him.  Even the Great Morris Man was moved to tears.

How the organisation kept the secret, managed to pull it off is a miracle and a mystery.  People gave their money and their time to create an event to celebrate the life and career of undeniably, unquestionably the most talented health service manager of his generation.

A dinner and Morris Dance, what’s not to like.

… it had to wait, the whole evening’s timing came to grinding halt, dinner held back and the organisers had a conniption… Andrew visited every table, knew everyone’s name and hugged us all.

There must be something wrong with my computer screen.  It’s going blurry.  Perhaps it’s my eyes?  The memory of that evening gives me goose bumps and I admit, wells in the eye of an old man who had forgotten how to weep tears of joy.

For over half the lifetime of our NHS, Andrew Morris has worked along with colleagues, up the ranks and through the tough times.  He has a style, a touch and a way… 

Leadership is easy to define; Leaders are visible, have a vision and share it often… much harder to do.

You’ll find Andrew Morris, every morning, before seven in A&E, talking to the junior doctors; how did the night go?  Morris knows how to feel the pulse of his organisation.

Walk the corridors and he will not only know the names of the people he encounters, he will know about their families.  Morris is visible.

His vision?  I asked him once.  He said; ‘A bloody good hospital for local people and look after everyone in front of you like it was your family’.  He never stops saying it.  He reminded us all on Saturday. 

In his time Morris has taken anonymous Frimley and a collection of thrown together buildings to a super modern, helicopter on the roof, Mecca of modern healthcare performance… and merged it with a local Trust that now delights in being part of the Frimley family.

He has created the time and space for good people to achieve great things and they love him for it. 

I was there when he started; a member of the panel who appointed this callow, ambitious youth.  I’m very pleased to have been there when this Knight of healthcare bowed out.

It doesn’t matter what the CQC say; Frimley is outstanding because Andrew said it would be, his staff wanted it to be and together they made it happen.  We all say so and that’s what’s important.

Andrew Morris… forget Vivaldi; you’re a rock-star.


 Contact Roy – please use this e-address 

Know something I don’t – email me in confidence.

Leaving the NHS, changing jobs – you don’t have to say goodbye to us! You can update your Email Address from the link you’ll find right at the bottom of the page, and we’ll keep mailing.