Leadership in the NHS 

Last year I attended the NHS Frontline Leadership course . I went along with an open mind and a positive attitude.

One of the first things I learnt was that anyone can be a leader . It’s not necessarily the people “at the top” or the ones on the highest salary . It’s not distinguished by the  colour of a persons uniform or their banding or grade. It’s about how they interact with others, their kindness ,smiling faces and their keen work ethic that inspires .  

I have ‘tried’ a senior role in the NHS and to be totally frank it was like a badly fitting suit . It felt uncomfortable it looked wrong and I wanted to have a refund and go back to my previous post . I was told I couldn’t be friends with the staff I managed that I needed to ‘keep a distance’  and ‘sort them out’ . I failed I wasn’t tough enough. 

My main aims were to focus on how the women and families  could be emotionally nourished by high quality care encompassed by compassion. I also wanted staff to give ideas that increased their well being so they felt valued , appreciated and made to feel loved .I don’t want to dwell too much about this experience but realising that  I am rather glad it happened has been remarkable in my own personal development. It has obviously strengthened me and given me courage – it is over ten years ago . 

If someone is kind to others they will spread that kindness and it will visibly shine out . Staff that are valued and listened to feel happier and they give better care to patients . 

When staff are tired , undervalued and worn down they loose energy and find it difficult to challenge so instead they choose the easier option which is to comply fit in and accept the culture they are working in – they just exist . 

The reason why the UK Government must sit up and listen to all NHS workers is that we know exactly what is going on – we see and do lots good things but we also know that when we don’t get our lunch break for a few days in a row, or we leave very late each day we become tired . We are in effect subsidising the NHS when we “keep going” we are not meant to be ‘survivors’ or ‘soldiers’ we are supposed to be caring for others but how can we when we sometimes don’t feel cared for ? 

I have been in the NHS since 1980 so therefore I have seen many changes.  The one virtue that I have kept as a constant is my compassion to others and I want to spread this ideal through social media – kindness truly matters . A woman ringing up the maternity unit in early labour can tell if the person answering the phone is kind . A visitor who is lost and asking for directions in the hospital from a busy porter can sense if that porter is kind . A woman in labour will make better progress if her midwife is kind and she will feel safer. 

So here’s the ‘thing’ I want you to do – when you are next in work look around  , listen out , watch , be aware. Ask yourself ‘Am I kind ? Am I a leader ? Am I complying because I’m tired or through fear ? ‘Who are the leaders I admire ?’ – Then buy yourself a copy of Sheena Byrom and Soo Downes book “ROAR BEHIND THE SILENCE” read digest , makes notes and question yourself – you ALL have the ability to be a leader whether you are a future midwife , a nurse , midwife , junior doctor , a porter , a support worker- whatever your role . 

The NHS needs you but more than that the people IN the NHS need you 

Thank you NHS frontline ,all the amazing midwives and maternity workers I know in reality and through social media – you inspire me . 

I’d like to dedicate  this blog to the late Adam Bojelian – a truly amazing patient leader and also to his mum and dad Zoe and Paul who work hard to make us all think differently about the NHS and leadership 

Thank you for reading – please leave your own comments 

Lots of love 


14 thoughts on “Leadership in the NHS 

  1. Jenny
    Very frequently when we read something we see the reactions such as, I love this, inspiring, thanks for writing, and other such expressions can loose impact especially with the 140 characters Twitter allows!
    The key to good care for both those and we care for and our fellow colleagues, is indeed is to listen, practice compassion and above all, be kind..so when I say I love this blog, I really love it, when I say it’s inspiring I’m totally inspired and when I say thanks I mean thanks Jenny for writing this and for reaching out to all of us whom you support, encourage and show kindness too..Jeannine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good afternoon Jenny,

      My former sociology lecturer and now good friend Dr Jo Murphy Lawless sent me these two articles after I related my experience on Wednesday evening after transferring that women to Labour ward. I thought you might find them interesting if you haven’t read them already. The idea of online support is very interesting and probably something we’re doing already.

      Love Jeannine ‘Midwives Overboard!’ Inside their hearts are breaking.pdf Achieving Consensus in the Development of an Online Intervention.pdf

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great blog, so inspiring. I will be sharing this with my students & colleagues. Kindness & compassion is not about the job you do but who you are.
    Thank you Jenny, a great aide memoir for us all x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice! I love it when people speak of kindness, especially in the workplace – it’s what set truly exceptional people apart (midwives, nurse, porters etc…) and it is Kindness that is the star quality!
    If only our Government and ‘leaders’ could set kindness as their priority and the world would be better in a quicker space of time (I’m sure they are Kind, but it’s just not their priority I get the impression!)
    Keep pushing the values – great read, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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