The trouble with NHS Choices… And a better way to do feedback?

“This is the most mismanaged gp surgery I have ever had the displeasure to use. Difficult to get appointments, impossible to plan around work, rude receptionist…”

 

It is difficult to see how any surgery could use this sort of general criticism to achieve anything positive. More often I find that this sort of comment leaves staff demoralised and defensive.

The premise of NHS Choices sounds superficially sensible. Provide potential patients with honest, good quality testimonials about GP practices. These rational and informed consumers will then choose to take their business to the best practices. The good surgeries are rewarded with new business. The underperformers will respond to patient feedback and improve, or eventually lose patients and go broke.

In most industries and under normal circumstances this would make sense. But, General Practice is not a normal industry and these are strange times. In an environment of clinical staff shortages, many practices simply do not need or want to attract more patients. They simply cannot find or afford the staff they would need to look after them. In addition, due to practices boundary rules, patient choice may be limited to only a collection of equally poorly rated practices facing shared recruitment and demographic problems. 

Feedback is powerful. Thoughtful feedback given with good intentions by a skilled tutor or friend can encourage a student to improve and excel. But, careless feedback can hurt, demoralise and block progress.

Feedback is a useful tool when applied in the right way to a suitable problem…

Continue reading “The trouble with NHS Choices… And a better way to do feedback?”

4 Things the NHS could learn from Disney

Working as a GP in the esteemed but overstretched british national institution which is the modern NHS can be tough at times. I felt this a little more than usual last week having just returned from my summer holiday in the artificial bubble and pinnacle of one of America’s own national institutions – Disney World –  the “happiest place on earth”.

Since beginning this blog, I’m always on the lookout for innovative ideas. Free association of unrelated concepts is a great source of inspiration. So I kept my iPhone in hand to jot down any thoughts that might help improve life and care within General Practice or the wider NHS.

lesson-for-nhs-from-disney-sketch

 

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Are NHS staff missing the Happiness Advantage?

Q. What do most want from life?

A. To be happy and successful.

Q. What should you do to achieve this?

A. Work hard, to achieve success, then feel happy.

 

The A-Level student knows they will be happy when they get into Medical School. The medical student will be happy when they graduate. The foundation doctor wants a good specialist training place. The specialist trainee will be happy when they complete training and find a permanent job. The GP/Consultant thinks they will be happy when they have saved enough money for early retirement….

Delayed gratification is certainly an essential part of the toolkit needed to achieve success. But, like me, you have probably learnt that there is more to actually being happy.

The obvious problem with the approach above is that happiness is all too often replaced by the next challenge. It is always in the future, when where we live is the present.

Evidence from the field of behavioural psychology suggests that this conventional wisdom about how to find happiness has even deeper flaws. And that the relationship between work, success and happiness is more complex than our instinctive, socially conditioned first thoughts might imply.

The Happiness Advantage Sketch

Shawn Achor, a Harvard Lecturer and psychologist, suggests in his book “The Happiness Advantage”, that the relationship between work, success and happiness actually runs in the opposite directions.

 

“People are smarter, more effective and resilient when they are happy”

Continue reading “Are NHS staff missing the Happiness Advantage?”

GP Federations – Live long and prosper?

GP Federation Pic

Are GP Federations the answer for General Practice?

This week’s sketch is inspired by the return of TNG to Netflix.


While you are here, you might enjoy some of my recent posts…
Why I'm excited about Pokemon Go
Why I’m excited about Pokemon Go
How storytelling helped at out CQV inspection
How storytelling helped at out CQV inspection
How we used speed dating to help GP recruitment and retention
How we used speed dating to help GP recruitment and retention

 

 

 

 

 


 

If you enjoyed my sketches or posts then please share on Twitter or Facebook and leave a comment!

 

How storytelling helped our CQC inspection

Sometimes you need to communicate a crucial point. To instruct individuals or a team to do something important. To encourage a trainee or team member to change a negative behaviour. It may be vitally important to a patient’s health or the success of your organisation. Fortunately medical training has prepared us well.

We know what to do. Present them with the facts. Support the message with data, graphs, risk ratios, tables and diagrams. This will help. Describe the options and the outcomes. Allow questions. Agree a course of action. Check understanding. Arrange to review progress.

People will then do what is best for themselves, society, or in the case of staff, the practice. Lose weight, complete the QOF prompts. They’ll be responsive to a logical case well made and do the right thing. Won’t they?

All too often, I find that, they don’t.

You will all recognise this story.

Tom is a smoker and we want to convince him to stop. We tell Tom that smoking kills 96,000 people a year in the UK, will shorten your life by an average of 10 years and that 80% of lung cancers are caused by smoking. The list of impacts and risks goes on. The logical case for stopping smoking is overwhelming. But, Tom had a friend… Bill. He smoked for 50 years and was fine. Until he stopped smoking. Since he stopped he had never coughed so much. He developed “heart trouble”, deteriorated and died. Bill always said that it was when he stopped smoking that his health started to go down hill.

“No doctor, I don’t want to stop smoking. It’s not worth the risk.”

Patients like Tom often show us the power of anecdotes and stories, and that they can be more compelling than the clearest of figures and facts.

It seems that many medics are missing a trick when communicating, motivating and leading. The use of stories and narrative are a great tool, and many professionals with technical and scientific backgrounds can under appreciate their impact.

Storytelling Pic

Continue reading “How storytelling helped our CQC inspection”