SCoR Talk


Friday, May 17, 2013

Leading the way at the National Radiology Managers Conference

Karen Middleton National Radiology Managers Conference

How will your radiology business grow?

“The change we need from now on is transformational change.” That was the message from Karen Middleton CBE to 250 radiology managers at the third National Conference for Radiology Managers on Thursday 9 May, sponsored by Philips.

The Chief Health Professions Officer at NHS England set the scene for the day’s event with a stirring speech on leadership and innovation in England’s new NHS.

“We have this tremendous gap and this is why you’re all feeling under such stress and immense pressure.

“You really have been the victim of your own success in delivering high quality care and reducing waiting times because there has been an increase in demand and resources are not increasing at the rate they did.”

Use your imagination

To overcome this, healthcare professionals must become more creative and use their imaginations in order to do something completely different. This, said Karen, is about moving from transactional change to transformational change and becoming different types of leaders:

“This is going to require a different model of leadership. Before it was about management-type activities. Management is about doing things right. Leadership is about doing the right things, and drastically, radically different things. Now it has to be about partnership.”

Karen acknowledged that it would mean being disruptive and that it won’t feel comfortable, adding that everyone welcomes improvement, but very few people welcome change: “It is difficult and it is tough, but you do have a choice.”

Karen used the analogy of broken traffic lights, saying there are two types of drivers. The first sit at the lights waiting for something to happen or someone to help. The second is the type that thinks “off I go”. Said Karen: “We don’t want too many of the second [driver type], of course, but the analogy shows there are choices about how you respond to the situation.”

Karen discussed the limited range of leadership styles required by the NHS in the past and explained that it won’t just be about meeting targets in the future – the NHS in the next five to ten years will require a far broader range of styles which will be used at different times.

Have a relentless focus on quality

In the new NHS, everyone must play a part in understanding and improving productivity, but clinical leaders must always put the patient at the heart of everything.

“Good clinical leaders have to have a relentless focus on quality. If they haven’t got that then we are lost. And we all know what happens when we get lost around quality.

“We had the horror of Mid Staffordshire and Winterbourne, where the eye was taken off the ball around quality and basic humanity seemed to be lost. If ever there was a moment in time to take stock, it is now."

A key message from Karen was that all providers will have to collaborate and share best practice far more than they currently are. Karen expressed concern about fragmentation, telling the audience that sharing best practice had to start in the strategic clinical networks and the professional networks.

Concluded Karen: “I’ll leave you with this final thought: When you are done changing, you are done.”

Karen’s key takeaways

• A range of different leadership styles is now needed
• Change is difficult, but there is no alternative
• Collaboration, partnerships and sharing best practice will be crucial
• Don’t panic – change won’t happen overnight
• Be ambitious!

You can download Karen’s presentation slides here.

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