“We have to act now,” said Sir Trevor Longstay, banging his fist on the table and sending a plate of custard creams flying in all directions.
News had broken that Jeremy Hunt meant to publish a new ten year plan to coincide with the NHS’s 70th birthday.
Sir Trevor looked round the table. Several heads were nodding.
“How soon can we have our own plan ready?” he asked.
“But why?” asked Rummage. “What possible use would it be?”
“Because if Whitehall has a plan it’s only a matter of time before we’re told to come up with our own damn fool plans. We need to be on the front foot. If we have a credible looking document out early we’ll be at the head of the queue for NHS birthday handouts,” said Sir Trevor.
Building on success
Sue Wanhope, acting deputy accountable officer at the Blithering Integrated Care System, looked up from the task of picking broken pieces of biscuit from her lap. “We already have the Blithering Forward View,” she said.
“Is that still going?” asked Sir Trevor. “Well it’s ditched now. This plan can build on its success, apply the lessons learnt, carry on the progress made and so on. It’s good practice to start a new plan before the old one runs out – avoids awkward questions.”
Wanhope pointed out that a packed agenda of birthday celebrations had already been agreed, including a number of high-impact spontaneous actions organised by the Mod Institute and its dynamic leader Bev Heaver.
Blithering’s transformation director planned to stage a mock invasion of an operating theatre with giant cardboard lightbulbs to inspire the surgical team to “keep shining a light on safety issues”, though she had eventually been dissuaded from her original idea of involving a real patient undergoing life-saving surgery and a photographer from the Argus in the stunt.
Not for the first time, she complained, paternalistic notions of infection control were getting in the way of progress.
No such objection had marred the centrepiece of Heaver’s plan, a competition in which dementia patients would vie to bake a “cake of change” with first prize going to the one with the most fully integrated ingredients and stakeholder buy-in.
After reviewing the rest of the Blithering Change Week agenda, the board were anxious. Even the surprise visit from Simon Stevens to open the Blithering Healthy New Town development could no longer be relied upon for positive PR.
The carefully co-ordinated event was beginning to unravel after a row with main sponsor Bernard Matthews about renaming the local primary school. A handful of local troublemakers had complained that the Turkey Twizzlers Healthy Living Academy for Younger People sent out mixed signals, and the killjoys in public health had intervened to put a stop to it.
All that was now left for Simon to open was a small patch of wasteland which had been designated a “community wellbeing space”. Blithering’s drug users and hookers had been asked to stay away until after Simon’s visit but there was still an unnerving risk of something going wrong.
Everyone quickly reached the view what was needed was a large and impressive document with lots of photos, big type and ordinary people “telling their stories”. Sir Trevor delivered the last point with evident distaste. He tolerated ordinary people but thought they should not be encouraged.
The board lost no time in agreeing that there was only one man for the job of pulling together Blithering’s ten year plan.
“Get Plackard in here,” said Sir Trevor.
Travelling at pace
Martin Plackard, who had been waiting outside the door, counted to three before pushing it open with the toe of a pointy shoe. He entered the meeting travelling at pace.
He was already talking before he reached the flipchart. “Obviously the first thing we’ll need is a robust title,” he said, twirling an indelible marker with the skill of a drum majorette.
“Initial thoughts, Plackard?” barked Sir Trevor.
“It’s got to say sustainable, innovative, digital, compassionate, joined up, collaborative, transparent, high-quality, patient-centred, locally determined, clinically driven, stakeholder led community based movement,” Plackard said, scrawling on the flipchart, which he also decorated with random circles and arrows.
“That covers just about everything,” said Sir Trevor.
“And promises nothing,” added Rummage.
Plackard acknowledged both contributions with his marker pen. “Precisely that. Everything and yet nothing.”
“As for the title,” he continued, “I think we could do worse than The Longstay Plan, perhaps with the subtitle A Fully Integrated Digital Future for All.”
Britain’s first knight of clinical waste slapped the table, showering the Blithering leadership team in biscuit crumbs for the second time in one morning. This time it was not displeasure.
“I may have underestimated you, Plackard,” said Sir Trevor warmly.
Minute taker: Julian Patterson
Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Julian Patterson.