Smart enough…

Primary Care Training - NHS - Smart enough-01

We are where we are.

We start where we stand.

We have to make the best of it…

Work with whatever’s at hand.

I thought you might like that little homily from Lilley Rules for Life!

We have a big issue; working with what is at hand. There’s a workforce crisis, how do we fix it?

For most of us, work fills up the largest segment of our lives.

British employees will averagely, work for 34 hours and 26 minutes a week, adding up to a total of 1,795 hours a year, and 84,365 hours over a lifetime.

People will change jobs ten times by the time they are 40.

Average commuter times; workers travelling for a total of 13,356 hours, amounting to 94,450 miles, in a career.

Oh, and people will have six office romances and 812 arguments at work… over a career.

Of course, none of this is true of the NHS. In health services hours are a lot longer, most staff will work close to their home, as there are NHS employment opportunities, locally.

Romance? Well, I’ve lost count of the nurses I know, married to doctors!

Changing jobs? Well, let’s be careful; jobs or careers?

You may well change your place of work. The universality of clinical qualifications means… you can. The NHS is a big employer and even in times of cut-backs, there are opportunities.

And, if you’re a clinician or medic, you’ll have trained in the NHS, work in the NHS and for the most part, stay in the NHS.

It’s the non-transferability of nursing and AHPs and doctors that means it’s a career and job for life.

Or, it did.

If you’re a nurse you’re going to have to work in the NHS, so the normal market-place rules on emoluments and packages, don’t apply?

Don’t be so sure. It looks to me, that idea is coming unglued.

We are short of nurses and in July 2017, the NMC published data which showed that for the first time there were more nurses and midwives leaving the register than joining… and they said the trend is continuing.

Recruiting from overseas has become politically toxic, growing-our-own takes time. That means, in the mean-time, we have to be better at employing and keeping people.

What makes a good employer?

Communication is a good place to start. I only know a handful of Trusts that text their staff every day… say thanks, or update; message from the C-suite. Even fewer share good news and ideas on FaceBook. Most discourage SoMe. People wonder what’s happening

and when they don’t know someone makes it up.

Being good at what they do? So many Boards over-spend, run into problems with regulators, fail to plan, knee-jerk their responses and the front-line pays the price.

They are seldom honest about their problems. Managers spend time in denial. The front-line spend time fixing the reality.

Flexible? I can’t tell you how many times older, experienced nurses write and say; ‘I’d go back to nursing but I can’t do twelve hour shifts and they won’t offer me anything on a flexible rota.

Training... professionals value training above all else yet, time after time, training budgets are the first to go.

It’s rare to find a creche in a hospital. Amazon Lockers are like hen’s teeth. Employers who make a conscious effort to be ‘family friendly’ are one-of-a-kind. Free car-parking, decent occupational health services… shall I go on.

Staff surveys show 1in 4 NHS people have experienced bullying and harassment. That stems from the pressure to deliver impossible targets and inept management.

Rising above this mess there are Trusts and other organisations who get-the-problem and are trying to turn the tide.

The Academy of Fabulous Stuff have nominated today as, Workforce Wednesday. Every Wednesday they’ll be featuring new ideas and innovations from NHS employers who are sharing their solutions, to make the NHS a better employer… Workforce Wizards!

Follow them on Twitter at hashtag;


If you are making a special effort, have an initiative, please share it. The little things are the big things.

There is no big-bang solution to retention problems but we know, happy employees mean happy, safer patients.

A Trust had the usual rule banning drinks at the nursing station, but in the hot weather, provided free bottles of water for everyone… that’s cool.

If you’re smart enough to be a manager, you have to be smart enough to know… times are changing, smart people can work anywhere.

Together, we can all be smart enough to keep them.

Contact Roy – please use this e-address – roy.lilley
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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.