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Thursday 04 October 2018

We want to speak up for you

By Jon Restell

Welcome to our new website. And whilst we’re at it, welcome to Managers in Partnership’s new way of approaching communications.

In the decade since we launched as the only union dedicated to serving health and care managers – throughout the UK, and across the public, private and voluntary sectors – the challenges facing our members have changed dramatically. And as those challenges have changed, so have our members’ needs and goals. To provide them with the service they deserve, we need a new set of tools; so this website is much more than an updated, like-for-like replacement of its predecessor.

For a start, today’s health and care managers need a louder collective voice – challenging the lazy stereotypes we so often hear repeated in the media and across the political spectrum. Everybody with experience of the working world knows that you can’t have an effective organisation without good managers. Yet too many people ignore that essential truth when discussing management in health and care – dismissing executives and line managers as ‘bureaucrats’ who somehow have little to do with treating patients.

The reality is that almost all the managers who oversee health and care services are dedicated public servants who put everything into their work. And their contribution – working with other clinical and support staff – is crucial not only the everyday treatment of patients, but also to improving service quality and saving taxpayers’ money. Yet too many senior health and care staff feel under siege, cast as the fall guys and held accountable for every budgetary, political and structural problem in the NHS and beyond.

So it’s time for Managers in Partnership (MiP) to get on the front foot in the public debate. Previously, we’ve focused on casework – providing one-to-one support for members caught up in redundancy, complaints or disciplinary proceedings – and representing our members behind the scenes, working with employers and national bodies to improve policies, working practices, employment conditions and the handling of change programmes.

That work remains as important as ever. But alongside it, we need to challenge that damaging, misled narrative around health and care management; and this site, with its emphasis on publishing and sharing news, features and opinions, has been built to carry those messages to a much wider audience.

And there’s another role for the voice of health and care managers in the public discourse: to improve understanding of the issues around NHS and social care provision, raising the quality of debate on these core public services. When topics such as staff shortages, rationing, Brexit and outsourcing are discussed, it’s easy to find the opinions of journalists, politicians, researchers, lobbyists, think tanks and industry bodies. The views of health and care managers – who deal with these issues every day, working at the sharp end of service delivery – are too rarely heard.

But there’s an appetite for the voice of lived experience, and an opportunity here to help improve policy decisions and operational practice; we’ll use this site to showcase your assessments, views and solutions. As examples, take a look at our interview with Bournemouth and Christchurch NHS trust chief executive Tony Spotswood, and our feature on how Ipswich hospital addressed its ‘bed blocking’ problem.

We hope that raising our profile will also attract new members; for our focus on casework and quiet partnership working has left too many health and care managers unaware of what we offer. So if you’re a non-member working in the field, I do hope you’ll consider joining us – gaining our protection, and in turn helping to protect health and care managers around the UK.

I’m so proud of MiP’s work – not just on behalf of our members, but in the interests of patients, taxpayers and other staff. Now it’s time to expand and explain what we do, strengthening our profile and raising our voice to meet the evolving needs of health and care managers across the system.

So please take a look around our brand new site. If you’re a member, check out our Advice & Information section – designed to help you react to emerging employment problems. If you’re a non-member working in the field, you might want to learn more about our members or find out how we protect and support them. For editorial coverage of issues in health and care, browse our News & Campaigns section.

And if you find something you like, please do share it via email or social media – helping to get the word out there. Because ultimately, this site is not designed to amplify our voices, but yours.

Jon Restell, chief executive, Managers in Partnership
 j.restell@miphealth.org.uk

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