Testing times…

Testing times... NHS_Training_in_Primary_Care_General_Practice

Leaders, if you listen to the lecturers, academics and the people who put other people under the microscope, have to be multi-faceted with a cornucopia of talents and skills.

Leadership dissected; Democratic Leadership and Autocratic, Laissez-Faire, Strategic, Transformational, Transactional, Coach-Style and Bureaucratic Leadership.

To be honest, I’m not sure about any of it.  For me it’s about being authentic.  That comes from being visible, connecting with people.  The Italians call it .

Head and shoulders, there is one quality, one sterling attribute, above all else I value and that is honesty.  

Truth, the stripped-pine truth.  Of course, if the truth is bad news, there is a skill in delivering it… at a pace and time that people can cope with. 

But, it’s still the truth.  When a leader is caught in a lie, they become ‘no good to man-nor-beast’… as The Duchess used to say.

Leaders are just like the rest of us… they make mistakes, misunderstand, get hold of the wrong end of the stick.  That’s because leaders are human.  When they do get in a tangle, real leaders put their hands up; ‘Listen folks, I got that wrong… we need to recalibrate, start again, have a rethink.

Leaders are honest.  The truth is free but comes with a terrible price if it’s ignored and the cost is credibility.

I am trying to decide if Michael Gove, my MP, is truthful.

If he’s not, he forfeits public trust.  If he ‘misspoke’, got things elbow-about-face, he should say so.

Last Sunday I sat on the sofa and listened as he gave me and the millions of others watching Sky TV, the unequivocal impression that 10,000 people had been tested for C-19.  

It was not true.  On the 28th we tested 6,999 people and on the 29th we tested 6,961.

Later in the day a press person was obliged to dissemble on his behalf and pretend Gove had intended to imply we had the ‘capacity to test 10,000 people’.

He could so easily have said;sorry folks, misunderstood the brief, we can test 10,000 and will do, soon, everyone is working their socks off…

That would have required honesty, truth and leadership.  Instead, there’s a row.

Why is this important?  Because there is now a question mark over Gove.  Can we trust anything he says?

It is also important because we are in the middle of a global pandemic and we cannot answer these questions;

  • Who’s got it
  • Who’s had it
  • Who’s going to get it
  • Where…

I know a small group of NHS managers have been working their backsides off to improve our testing response.  I assure you, whatever the failure of testing, it is not the fault of the NHS.  A stumbling Number 10 will try a shove the blame anywhere but them.

We have to look at PHE, testing is their role, and whose Colindale laboratories where soon overwhelmed with testing and their organisational response.

We have to look at government and ask were they slow, off the back-foot, in buying whatever you need to buy… there seems to be a global shortage of the gloop and jiggle machines and there is no indication it will get better.

We have to look at procurement, fragmented by devolved responsibilities, the Home Nations in competition to buy scarce reagents.  Where was HMG?

We have to ask why HMG have not asked booze manufacturers, perfume distillers, manufacturers with laboratories, to turn their attention to making whatever reagent-jollop needs to be made.

We have to ask why, if it is true that there are 44 molecular virology labs in the UK, they are not being asked to process 500 tests a day and that would give us 154,000 tests a week… a start.  Work 24-7, we’d get closer to serious numbers.

… and when we look at all these things, what will we learn?  Dunno… because, without honesty we will still be listening to rubbish about a ‘bad test being no test’ or we are ‘doing well in the world table-of-testing’ and ‘we can’t buy the stuff’.

We need to test pretty well everyone and when we’ve done it, test them again and then re-test them.  Ten thousand, 25k, gets nowhere near it.

Government has to learn these may be difficult days but above all, they are testing times.

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.