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Towards people and impact


Blog headlines

  • 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.

  • Purdah – guidance for professionals
    15 November 2019

    After Christmas and the HSJ Awards, purdah is Martin Plackard’s favourite time of year.

  • Tools honoured in Blithering awards
    8 November 2019

    The Blithering Celebrating Success Awards are always eagerly anticipated. Every November, they recognise the commitment and dedication of people who put other people at the heart of everything they do before going the extra mile in their shoes. They also reflect the passionate belief of the organisers, Spume Media, in an awards-led approach to healthcare improvement science.

  • Provisional findings of the interim report
    31 October 2019

    The programme delivery group at One Blithering, the emergent NHS Blithering integrated care system, has published an interim report containing the provisional findings of a year-long strategic review.

  • Toast
    25 October 2019

    "The biggest complaint about the NHS which is beloved by everyone is about the food, and the biggest complaint about the food is about the lack of toast.”

  • Plackard’s misdirection and a victory for old power
    17 October 2019

    In which no one can find Plackard's signposting event, an old foe returns from his past and Sir Trevor Longstay loses interest in compassion

  • Sir Trevor defends revolving door
    4 October 2019

    Sir Trevor Longstay has hit out at proposals designed to make it harder for failed NHS directors to get new jobs with no questions asked.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Towards people and impact

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.

Plackard, the author of some of the NHS’s best-loved slogans including “Building on future excellence” and “Towards outstanding”, said:

“It’s easy to overstate the importance of meaning in role design. We need to create roles that appeal to people who refuse to be defined by outmoded ideas about job descriptions, past experience or achievements.

“We constantly ask ourselves whether the language we use is inclusive and reflective of our values. For instance, we have stopped using the term ‘workforce’ because not everyone identifies with the concept of work and ‘force’ has negative connotations. Our annual belonging survey also revealed relational issues with ‘staff’ (demeaning), ‘human resources’ (impersonal) and ‘employees’ (hierarchical), which is why we now we simply refer to ‘people’ in all our communications.“ 

Plackard has kindly shared some of his own job titles past and present for those seeking inspiration. It covers the last five years. See his Wikipedia entry for a complete list.


  • Director of sustainable communications
  • Director of communications, corporate identity and co-production initiatives
  • Head of disruptive communications (ICS role)
  • Head of future communications and digital lived experience


  • Director of superhighways and digital road-mapping
  • Director of improvement strategy and digital wellbeing
  • Director of digital transparency and social media impact
  • Director of digital transformation and cloud based delivery


  • Director of buy-in
  • Head of meaningful co-production and stakeholder outreach strategy
  • Director of person-centredness and digital intimacy
  • Head of meaningful feedback (later shortened simply to ‘head of meaning’)
  • Associate director of listening
  • Director of stakeholder nurture and realtime feedback


  • Director of corporate memory and forward views
  • Head of integrated place-based initiatives
  • Head of branding and putting people at the heart of things
  • Head of systemness and place
  • Head of imagineering
  • Acting head of values
  • Director of event horizons and deep dives
  • Head of impact

People editor: Julian Patterson


Anonymous says:
Jan 17, 2020 04:46 PM

Head of imagineering - I’d apply for that! This had me laughing from start to finish, just wonderful!

Karole Smith
Karole Smith says:
Jan 17, 2020 04:48 PM

Love these job titles - very appealing!!
I'd apply :-)

Anonymous says:
Jan 20, 2020 09:12 AM

True title advertised by NHS Jobs this week - Head of Regional Expansion (South East). Where exactly is NHS England and Improvement thinking of expanding to - Northern France? The Netherlands??

Julian Patterson
Julian Patterson says:
Jan 21, 2020 03:35 PM

Thanks for the posts, folks. I love the head of regional expansion, but hope they phase them in carefully. Appointing heads of expansion in all regions simultaneously would be a recipe for disaster.