‘We Can Make It Work’. This motto sums up the spirit of your National Committee when it met in Birmingham for its biannual away day in May. Our committee are positive people, who want to live life to the full and help others to do the same. They find joys in relationships with colleagues, teamwork and supporting people. They want to make a difference and to be recognised for it. They love problem-solving and the variety of their work. Their bugbears are bureaucracy (take note, Daily Mail whinos), lack of funding and resources, and bad politics. This mindset seems to be very representative of the MiP members and NHS managers I know. Which is re-assuring for a body of elected representatives! I hope that you recognise yourself in the description.
Positive people, yes, but not people who view the world through rose-tinted specs. The committee’s aspirations grow from the knowledge and experience that the garden needs some work! They love their jobs, but they also know that fewer and fewer MiP members would recommend NHS management as a career. They want to develop MiP as a mutually supportive professional community that exerts influence for change across the UK, in local workplaces as much the commanding heights of the system. They want members to retire leaving a legacy of achievement and learning, after careers brimming with curiosity and personal development. They want good health and happiness for our members and for the reps who support them. Above all, our committee wants to improve the management culture in the NHS.
Good (and improving) management means happier staff and that means better healthcare. While it’s harder for managers to get this message across than doctors and nurses, I’ve no doubt that there is an audience for organisations like MiP, and networks such as Proud2bOps, talking about why NHS management is important for the public’s wellbeing. The employment, healthcare and political trends of the next few years will make the debate about good management as topical and as relevant as ever.
Campaigning effectively to change the workplace and NHS culture is about making good choices. Run at everything and nothing happens. The committee has therefore agreed some priorities for the rest of the year on which we will build in 2023.
First, we want to develop our communications, profile and influence across the UK and at different levels of the system. Strong national influence is important but so is local clout in the workplace – indeed they rely on each other. The committee is committed to seek our members’ views and be accountable to them for decisions. If you have ideas about how we campaign and communicate fire them in before the committee meets again in September.
Secondly, we will get stuck into the opportunities (and challenges) of implementing the Messenger review – oversold and shamelessly spun by Sajid Javid as it was. There are clearly massive gaps in management capacity (we should be both proud and concerned by our 2p in the pound admin costs) and system culture – and, if these are to be addressed properly, we must campaign for the next review. But there are also opportunities for better management in Messenger’s high level recommendations which we don’t want to miss.
Thirdly, our impact at all levels will depend hugely on our growing band of workplace reps and their relationships with our professional staff. So this year when we hold our week-long online summit for members, we will also hold a residential meeting for reps, committee and staff so they can develop our plans for cultural change and further growth of MiP as a union and professional community.
I hope as a member you feel able to play a part in this work – an upbeat and positive agenda in tough times. Your committee will certainly work hard to engage you and act in your best interests. And our team and I, as chief executive, will positively relish helping you and your reps make it work.
- Jon Restell is chief executive of Managers in Partnership.