25 February - non-executive directors - with Dame Julie Moore

25 February 2022

This week’s non-executive directors webinar opened in conversation with Dame Julie Moore, non-executive director, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, and former chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

In a conversation on the theme of ‘delivering a sustainable NHS – are we at risk of kicking the can down the road?’ Dame Julie said: “Reconciling the long term and short term shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. One of the problems is that Health Secretaries don’t serve for long enough to see the consequences of their reforms.”

“We have to agree on long-term workforce plans so we can have a sustainable workforce for the future.”

“Reorganisations always result in people leaving the system – those who feel the latest changes are one reorg too many. There are two things that are constant in healthcare: GPs and hospitals. Everything else is transient. Every time we change things it costs money and we lose people. We’re going through this now. In Birmingham I asked my team for a five-year commitment and most of them are still there now, 15 years later. You need that in order to deliver.”

[Success factors in Birmingham] “We started with a ten-year plan – not three, or five – and we focused on improving patient care; getting so far ahead of our targets that we wouldn’t get too much attention from the regulators.” […] “We concentrated on our digital strategy to free up staff time and make life easier for patients.”

“One of the biggest dangers to the NHS was the Connecting to Health programme. There had not been a major IT system implemented in the country other than that one. What that did was make people sit back and wait for a system to be delivered rather than making their own.”

[Environmental sustainability] “Air quality is a massive contributor to ill health. How can we as a health service be better at using energy? There has been a campaign to stop digital consultations, but I think they are good for taking people off the road and saving time. The other thing that taxes me is how much disposable plastic the NHS uses. Most NHS staff are wanting to make a difference. We planted 1,000 trees and made them a community orchard. It’s never considered a priority. We have to have this focus on long-term population health.”

Also overheard during the discussion:

“I’ve never in my career had the luxury of being in a senior role for more than five years. The best years I remember were the Blair years from ‘97 onwards. It's about partnerships and it’s about trust and if these relationships are good then you’ll make really good progress.”

“Whatever strategies we make, the problem is organisational culture. Trying to align all cultures to the strategy is a mammoth task. How do we ensure the boards and the leadership stays focused on strategy rather than culture? Staying on the culture would mean they don’t get the strategy delivered.”

These meetings are by invitation and are open to all NHS non-executives directors, chairs and associate non-executive directors of NHS providers. Others may attend by special invitation.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about these webinars, please contact: events@good-governance.org.uk