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Telling it like it is (or how to adopt an air of resignation)


Blog headlines

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    8 April 2021

    The blog this week, by Helen Northall, looks at the changes needed to make integrated care systems a reality.

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  • The new proposed NHS legislation and where this fits in the jigsaw of changes
    18 March 2021

    In the blog this week William Greenwood, chief executive of Cheshire Local Medical Committee, looks at the implications of the White Paper on general practice.

  • Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all
    11 March 2021

    Professor David Colin-Thomé shares his thoughts on the White Paper in this week’s blog.

  • UK’s National Health Service teams up with the Radio Society of Great Britain to improve health and wellbeing
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  • Structuring a PCN Social Prescribing Service for the post COVID world
    25 February 2021

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  • Community-Oriented Integrated Care
    18 February 2021

    The blog this week is a short extract from a paper considering an approach primary care networks could use to move towards community-oriented integrated care.

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    11 February 2021

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  • Time to talk day
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  • Supporting Staff: the emergence of ‘long-covid’
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    As we are now well into a second, or is it now the third, wave of Covid-19 it is becoming apparent that Covid is something we have not experienced before and it has unique implications for staff management. It is not just the possibility that staff may become acutely ill with the virus, but that for some they may go on to develop persistent debilitating symptoms that will affect their ability to go back to work. This article looks at the implications of long-covid for HR and service managers when looking to support health care professionals (HCPs) return to work.

  • Link of the week: Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR)
    21 January 2021

    This week we are sharing a link to the Clinically-Led workforce and Activity Redesign (CLEAR) site that is funded by Health Education England.

  • So much more than an extra pair of hands
    14 January 2021

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  • Primary Care Networks – how did we get here?
    7 January 2021

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  • A year like no other
    17 December 2020

    On 5 July 1948 the NHS was born, over the last 72 years challenges and changes have been remarkable but the service has probably never been tested as much as in the last nine months. There have previously been numerous re-organisations, multiple changes to hospitals, mental health services and a shift from the family doctor towards more integrated primary care services delivered by a range of professionals. However, rapid transformation of services to embrace digital technologies, and a shift change to work differently has been forced upon all areas of the health service this year.

  • Guest blog: David Hotchin
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  • What now for commissioning?
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    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

  • What White people don’t see
    26 November 2020

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  • Primary Care: Why don’t we talk about Racism?
    20 November 2020

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  • Primary Care and the Health of the Public
    12 November 2020

    By Professor David Colin-Thomé, OBE, chair of PCC and formerly a GP for 36 years, the National Clinical Director of Primary, Dept of Health England 2001- 10 and visiting Professor Manchester and Durham Universities.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Telling it like it is (or how to adopt an air of resignation)

We spend a lot of time worrying about the dignity of patients but rarely spare a thought for the feelings of chief executives ejected from their posts with humiliating regularity.

They face ridicule, embarrassing pay-offs and, in extreme cases, re-employment and the dismal prospect of another trip round the board.

When your turn comes, don’t be fobbed off with any of the stock excuses. No one seriously believes you want to spend more time with your family. Nor will they be convinced by your long-suppressed desire to do more gardening or the appeal of unspecified new career opportunities. Use any of these and you rob yourself of the chance to go out in a blaze of mediocrity.

Why do we keep doing it? What is the purpose of the euphemistic, cliché ridden note pinned to the victim’s body? 

“She was pursuing a life-long interest in plank-walking when she decided to step off and explore the bottom of the ocean.”

“He was cleaning his sword when he felt an irresistible urge to find out what it felt like to fall on it.”

The cover story is ostensibly designed to spare the feelings of the individual and allow them to move from one career blunder to the next with a bit of dignity, but actually it is part of the punishment.

The flimsy narrative spun by HR or corporate communications, presented as a face-saving kindness, merely confirms that the departing chief executive is not only incompetent but a ludicrous excuse-monger.

All that remains is for the chair to issue a statement of mock regret.  “We are sad that so-and-so has decided to leave, but very pleased that he will now have time to get to know his children and tend his allotment.”  

This is followed by faint praise for so-and-so’s “achievements” and “lasting contribution”.  There is no need to mention the balls-up that got him sacked: it has already been splashed across the newspapers.

There is a better way. A full-frontal declaration of culpability is a winning tactic for anyone in the firing line. “I was the responsible officer. It happened on my watch. It’s only right that I should go. I’d like to make it clear that the great work of this organisation is more important than any personal regret I may feel. Did I make a mess of things? You bet.”

Conclude with “I’d like to thank my fellow directors for their unfailing loyalty and support”, which emphasises that they haven’t shown you any.

A frank admission of guilt will always get you off, however heinous the crime. Your failure will no longer be unforgivable but heroic. We all love a repentant sinner.

It may be counter-intuitive to take responsibility, but the more you protest that it’s all your fault, the more readily suspicion will attach to your mealy-mouthed colleagues on the board. Never let anyone forget they were there.

Draw attention to their blamelessness at every possible opportunity. It’s nothing less than the treacherous bastards deserve.

Careers editor: Julian Patterson


Owen R Rumble
Owen R Rumble says:
Jan 29, 2016 12:58 PM

"For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men."
"Julius Caesar" Act 3, Sc. 2, William Shakespeare.

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jan 29, 2016 01:17 PM

Et tu, Owen?
On a slightly different tack, here's a relevant notion for NHS managers, not to mention Lord Carter and his paymasters:
"I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty."
Samuel Goldwyn