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Plackard forges ahead


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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Plackard forges ahead

Martin Plackard was in high spirits. An order had come down from on high for a large-scale public consultation exercise. Life didn’t get much better than this for NHS Blithering’s head of patients, public, people and communities.

“NHS England wants to ask the public what should be in the long year plan,” he said, adding that the plan would be out any day now.

Dr David Rummage interrupted: “Wouldn’t it have been a better idea to ask them what should be in the plan before it was written?” he asked.

Plackard looked puzzled. “I think we both know it’s not that simple, David,” he said.

Plackard forged ahead.

“So we need to ask people about their experience of care, how person-centred they are, whether they feel valued, if they feel empowered to speak up, what they’re passionate about and what they see as the top priorities for the way our NHS cares for children, younger people, mums, carers, adults, people of age and those living with marginalisation.

“We will need to reach out and engage at scale on social media, starting with an advent calendar in which each door will represent a different locally relevant ambition for integrated care and collaborative working.”

Sue Sharpe, chief executive of Blithering General peered over her glasses at Plackard. “It’s certainly Christmassy,” she said.

Plackard chose to ignore Rummage’s snorting.

He went on to present his plan for an online suite of engagement resources including top tips, checklists, bite size guides, mythbusters, FAQs and template success stories.

There would also be a series of roadshows, to be rolled out either in waves, cohorts or tiers. These events would enable Blithering to harness the untapped energy of people and communities in group exercises with Post-it notes, flipchart paper, feedback and meaningful consensus on next steps, he explained.

Sir Trevor Longstay looked at his watch and scowled.

“That’s all very well, Plackard,” he said. “But it’s not about asking people or listening, it’s about leadership.”

Everyone agreed that as usual Sir Trevor had hit the nail on the head. The meeting broke for lunch.

Some days later

Plackard was confiding in Sue Sharpe.

This was not something he did lightly. He suspected that Sue Sharpe disliked him. There had been tell-tale signs – her withering contempt, her occasional attempts to get him fired.

But Plackard was desperate. His campaign had been a flop.

Twitter had dubbed the advent calendar a “sadvent calendar”. The population of Blithering had taken the offer of a People’s Unconference at face value and unattended in their thousands.

Plackard’s #BlitheringStrongerTogether social movement had somehow failed to ignite the public imagination. The Argus’s wilful misrepresentation of the campaign under the headline #BlitheringStrangerTogether had been the last straw.

Sue Sharpe reminded Plackard how hospitals make the best of bad news. She explained how partial transparency was the key to plausible reporting. Plackard made notes.

Later still

Plackard’s report to the board of the STP was well received. Everyone agreed that the provisional engagement statistics were encouraging and that the video endorsement by Matt Hancock of the Blithr patient dating app was a huge PR coup.

Sir Trevor Longstay had a generally low opinion of Plackard but he recognised the man-management value of faint praise.  

“I never knew you were at all talented, Plackard,” Sir Trevor said.

“He hides it incredibly well,” Rummage said.

Everyone agreed that Plackard hid it well.

NHS Networks


gareth evans
gareth evans says:
Dec 07, 2018 11:22 AM

Wonderful stuff... but am wondering whether I should be enjoying it so much when I recognise so much of Plackard's approach in the work I do..?