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360 degrees of spin


Blog headlines

  • Virtual education sessions on spinal cord injury from Spinal Injuries Association
    2 July 2020

    This week Karen Mikalsen from the Spinal Injuries Association shares some information on their work and events for healthcare professionals.

  • Guest blog:Karen Chumley
    25 June 2020

    Thank you to Karen Chumley for a second blog –this time on the local use of an Electronic Palliative Care Coordination system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Karen is the Clinical Director and Deputy CEO at St Helena.

  • Link of the week
    19 June 2020

    This week's link of the week is article by Yasmin Khanagha published in Nursing Times – Why we need to open the conversation about racism.

  • Guest blog: Dr Karen Chumbley
    12 June 2020

    This week we have a guest blog submitted by Dr Karen Chumbley, clinical director and deputy chief executive at St Helena (https://www.sthelena.org.uk/)

  • Social care to become lifestyle brand
    16 April 2020

    Social care is to get a new brand identity as the government seeks to reverse the perception that it is the poor relation of the NHS.

  • Blithering Covid-19 bulletin plays vital role
    2 April 2020

    To fill a gap in the market for timely and relevant Covid-19 information, Martin Plackard, director of global crisis communications at NHS Blithering introduces his latest initiative to reach out to stakeholders during the outbreak.

  • Social distancing the Longstay way
    27 March 2020

    We asked Sir Trevor Longstay, chief executive of the NHS Blithering University Hospitals Foundation Trust and commander-in-chief of the Blithering Covid-19 Taskforce to give us some practical tips on social distancing. Here he shares some of the lessons learned over four decades of leadership – not all of them relevant or epidemiologically sound

  • Nothing left to shift: fears grow over NHS paradigm supply
    12 March 2020

    The government has issued a stark warning that stocks of paradigms and other basic supplies could soon run out if NHS managers continue panic-buying.

  • Matt Hancock’s diary – a week of levelling up
    27 February 2020

    Taking personal charge of global pandemics is one of the perks of this job. I’m referring to coronavirus, of course, and I’m booked to appear on Sky News to talk about it.

  • Exceeding your expectations: the Blithering staff survey
    20 February 2020

    Staff at NHS Blithering feel listened to “at least once a year” and report that their expectations of taking part in surveys have been “met” or “exceeded” in the past 12 months.

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Tuesday
    7 February 2020

    The second in our series of privileged insights to the working life of Martin Plackard, the NHS’s most gifted communicator

  • Martin Plackard’s week: Monday
    30 January 2020

    First in an occasional series of glimpses into a typical week in the life of Martin Plackard, the NHS's most influential strategic communicator

  • A quick guide to quick guides
    24 January 2020

    Few of us have time for long documents that take ages to read or a lot of expertise to put together. That’s where quick guides come in.

  • Towards people and impact
    17 January 2020

    This week the Royal Pharmaceutical Society advertised for a head of engagement and belonging. Such titles can be controversial – but not for Martin Plackard, whose CV features a number of leadership roles in the fields of impact, euphemism management and talent delivery.

  • National log-in reset will change everything
    9 January 2020

    This week the Department of Health and Social Care announced a £40m investment to make it easier to log-in to NHS computers. It’s a laudable aim, akin to fitting a keyless entry system to a Ford Anglia to make it go faster.

  • Martin Plackard’s top tips for making a difference in 2020
    3 January 2020

    NHS Blithering’s Martin Plackard MBE was recognised in the new year honours list for services to strategic communications and meaningful engagement. Here he gives his top tips for others who hope to make a very real difference to people, communities and their own career prospects in 2020.

  • My amazing Twitter year – by Matt Hancock
    20 December 2019

    It's been a fantastic year on social media for the secretary of state for health and the other thing. Here it is in very nearly his own words

  • Sustainability and transformation parties: mandatory guidance
    5 December 2019

    As Christmas fast approaches, system leaders are getting ready for so-called sustainability and transformation parties, the highlight of the year for those who enjoy kinky integration with strangers.

  • All the latest health policy news from the general **** campaign
    29 November 2019

    Because purdah is still in force, this week’s **** has been heavily redacted. Here are the main parties’ plans for government as set out in their manifestos. A full unexpurgated version can be obtained from **** Party HQ.

  • New outfit more splendidly integrated than ever
    21 November 2019

    The emperor has announced plans for yet another new outfit, amid claims that this one will be even more splendid than the last.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

360 degrees of spin

The results of the NHS Blithering annual staff survey are in. Martin Plackard, director of stakeholder nurturement and realtime feedback has written to staff to present the findings.

Dear colleague

As you know, every year we send out a questionnaire seeking your views on the state of NHS Blithering. The results tell you how well we’re doing and how positive you should feel.

This year, as usual, the survey shows we are doing brilliantly despite a lot of pressures and demands, none of which are our fault.

So by way of a “thank you” to staff for helping us to show how fabulously it’s all going, here is a summary of the key findings.

Great care for all

Overall we saw a four-fold improvement on last year after seasonally adjusting the baseline to the sector average for an organisation of comparable demographics and applying the deflator.

More than two-thirds of you (11%) would be happy to recommend the care provided by your organisation to a friend or member of your family. Only a tiny minority (89%) said they would be “deeply worried” or that they “wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy”.

Thumbs-up for senior management

How well do senior managers engage with staff? Do they clearly communicate the mission and purpose of the organisation? Do staff know the names of the people in charge? Does the board promote a compassionate and open culture? Do managers listen to the views of staff? Does anyone check the extravagant claims on directors’ CVs before appointing them?

Most respondents (87%) agreed that senior managers either already do or should aim to do one or more of these things at some point in the not-too-distant future. A further 45% thought senior managers did a very difficult job or should occasionally try to do one.

The survey provides a ringing endorsement of Blithering’s leadership. There was unanimous agreement with the statement “I have complete confidence in our leaders” once the results had been adjusted to discount the views of non-board members.  

Results you can trust

Asked how they feel about the positive gloss put on the staff survey every year, almost everyone (2%) said they found it “not at all” or “just a bit” patronising. A statistically insignificant minority (98%) responded “pull the other one” or “I wasn’t born yesterday”, indicating mild disagreement.

As in previous years, the survey was conducted by a reputable and completely independent polling company to avoid accusations of bias. The full results can be found on the Ipsos Rummage website.  

Telling you what you want to hear

We work closely with the experts at Ipsos Rummage to ensure that the survey tells you exactly what we want you to hear, however uncomfortably that may sit with the data.

Unfortunately, while we always publish a summary of the results together with detailed explanatory notes for journalists, the press cannot always be relied upon to report the survey accurately.

References in certain corners of the press to “blatant spin” are a gross misrepresentation of our robust, evidence-like 360 degree process.

Much progress, some way still to go

Don’t let the fake news printed by the Argus and others cloud your judgement. Here are the hard facts.

For the seventh year in succession, Blithering has:

  • Demonstrated very significant progress
  • Identified that it still has some way to go
  • Made very real and tangible pledges to improvement (the Blithering Charter)
  • Renewed Ipsos Rummage’s contract for a further 12 months.

Not a tick-box exercise

I’ll leave you with one more inspirational finding from this year, which is that staff are more positive than ever about the future.

Asked: “Are you more positive than ever about the future?” all respondents (110%) replied “yes”. Tellingly, no one ticked the alternative response: “I wish to take unpaid leave to deal with my negative and unhelpful attitudes”.

That says more about the spirit of Blithering staff than I ever could.

Yours faithfully


Editor: Julian Patterson