25 June - NHS non-executive directors webinar

28 June 2021

This week’s session opened in conversation with Nicola Gilham, non-executive director, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

Nicola said: “We are trying to manage our time to pause, reflect and take time to refresh but everyone has the pressure of managing the elective waiting list, which is not going away. So on the one hand we’re saying take time to refresh but also trying to plan for the third wave and prepare for winter pressures which is difficult.

“We’re seeing stress manifest itself in micro-aggression and more cases of bullying as people are more tense and these levels are something that we wouldn’t normally see. Amongst this however we are seeing a lot of compassionate leadership and we’re really aware of listening with fascination, having empathy throughout all levels of the organisation and then trying to make decisions based on this. […]

“When we hear of people leaving it is generally not about pay and pay is something we can’t really change as we have to operate in the parameters we are given. What we can do is ensure the infrastructure around our staff is sufficient to support them. We want to show that we are really investing in people and in our teams. The NHS can’t be anything without a diligent workforce.”

Also overheard during today’s webinar:

“One of the pressures for colleagues around the elective recovery programme is guilt that arises from clinical prioritisation and having to make decisions that leave others still on a waiting list.”

“A great model for measuring stress levels as a self-check and quick tips, but almost a way to encourage self-referral at tipping points. I applaud the set-up of a separate workforce committee in the governance structure but I do hear 'difficult to measure' in reference to culture and wellbeing. I wonder what new metrics others are thinking about in this space or should it be an increased focus of existing?”

“I’m hearing more and more that staff don’t have time to look after their mental health and wellbeing as work is so demanding. Do we need to develop frameworks to protect this time? We’re doing ward walks; we’re doing focus groups and really listening to staff but I am concerned that we’re not giving enough credibility to this workforce. Our workforce is the NHS so we need to know how to do this effectively. I don’t have an answer but I do know that it is absolutely imperative that we give time and space for this at board.”

“I still can't help but feel that despite huge efforts, we have a transactional relationship with our staff; due to the pressures we face, can we see the whole person?”

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. For further details, visit our events page.

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