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Social distancing the Longstay way


Blog headlines

  • Link of the week - Visionbridge
    31 July 2020

    The link we are sharing this week was submitted by Julian Jackson, Visionbridge.

  • Links of the week
    23 July 2020

    This week we are sharing two articles with you.

  • Link of the week
    21 July 2020

    The blog is from the perspective of the Company Chemist Association's Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison.

  • Link of the week
    9 July 2020

    This week we are sharing a blog from the NHS Confederation’s “NHS Reset” looking at the work of Healthwatch, the role of volunteers in supporting patients being discharged from hospital and the importance of the community.

  • 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.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Social distancing the Longstay way

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

As a very senior manager I’ve always preferred to take a system-level view of the world. The current crisis has made it clear that I was right to stay out of the fray.

Those chief executives fond of saying that they like to roll up their sleeves, muck in with their teams or “walk the floor” hugging their subordinates, fraternising with nurses and “engaging” with patients now have cause to reflect on their folly.

They are confined with their families watching drivel on Webflix, pressure-washing the patio and helping their children with their homework. I’m proud to say I have never hugged another human being, let alone helped a child. These are core principles of my personal infection control strategy. 

None of the measures imposed by the government are new to me.

Lady Longstay and I started practising social distancing early on in our marriage. For hygiene reasons she insisted on a strict self-isolation policy, which is only relaxed at Christmas and on my birthday. Even then, she remains a stickler for the two-metre rule. Recent events have fully vindicated her caution.

System-wide parking

I drive a large car, not because I feel that I’m superior to everyone else (it’s for others to make such judgements) but because I like a clear view of the road ahead at all times – and to scan the horizon for game-changing opportunities, as Plackard is fond of saying.

Driving a Lexus VSM hybrid means I need plenty of space to park. A&E is frequently busy these days, so I no longer feel able to take up space required by ambulances and have been obliged to resort to the car park.

Fortunately, as a mark of gratitude for fast-tracking their bid through the recent procurement, the operators of our parking concession have kindly made an extra-wide complimentary space available for my use for as long as the franchise lasts. 

My robust, no-nonsense driving style encourages other drivers to maintain a respectful braking distance and keeps pedestrians on their toes. Road safety is everyone’s business. 

The same principles apply in the workplace.

According to our vision statement, the Blithering Integrated Care System is founded on notions of partnership, equality and inclusion. Of course it’s a mistake to take this sort of thing too far. In my experience collaboration attracts the wrong sort of people and is a breeding ground for unhealthy ideas.

I’m reminded of when GPs began to demand a “voice” in the ICS – a notion that was never intended to be taken literally. Blithering has hundreds of practices. It’s difficult to think of a bigger risk to public health than a mass gathering of doctors.

A seat at the table

So I’m grateful to David Rummage for developing our strategy for safely involving them. Rummage is a portfolio GP who divides his time between committees, conference sessions and his Virtual Triage consulting business, so he has plenty of experience of clinical risk avoidance.

His advice was to give GPs the seat at the table they were asking for – but only one, so they have to take it in turns. Making it slightly smaller than the others by cutting an inch or so off the legs also ensures that the seat-holders never get above themselves.

What does any of this have to do with the current crisis? How can we apply these valuable lessons? Is there an end in sight?

I don’t pretend to have all or indeed any of the answers, but I will share with you the three words that those who know me well have heard many times – words that every top leader should remember in a crisis: stay well away.

How you use them is up to you.

Editor: Julian Patterson