Kate had given a lot of thought to my first day. She’d appreciated that a two-hour car trip on the M1 could be awkward and getting orientated to new colleagues and surroundings uses up a big chunk of brain processing-power. She’d built in breaks with no meetings and lined up a useful lunch ‘date’. Very considerate. Yet, we got through all the dull but important ‘house-keeping’ items.
As I drove home, I reflected on the overall impression of the day. I felt quite happy and relieved. It’s well known that people rarely remember what you’ve said, but they do remember how you made them feel. I was surprised by the style of the organisation – open-plan offices with frosted-glass offices for ‘special’ people. At least, that was how it appeared to me. It seemed a million miles away from the NHS. There were no desktop PC’s in sight; indeed, there was very little desktop clutter. Not like most hospitals I’ve worked in, where jumble and chaos seems to be the modus operandi! There were no messy pieces of paper stuck on the walls either. The NHS seems to have been decorated with wallpaper made out of ‘important’ notices that nobody takes any notice of! These visible signs are giveaways as to the culture of the organisation. Just like the way people dress and present themselves, so an organisation signals its values by its outward appearance, whether deliberate or not.
There was also something strange that took me a little while to work out. The place was full of men! I guessed 80:20 ratio. The NHS is the opposite; it’s female-dominated. I don’t pretend to understand the significance of this, but it struck me as a noticeable difference.
I wondered what one of the men would say if I randomly asked them what the purpose of the ‘NHS Account’ was. How connected do they feel to the patients who are going to benefit from their work? How could we make it ‘real’ for them? Could we get some high-quality images of healthcare in action? How about some quotes from patients, doctors and nurses, etc? Do they visit hospitals to see what goes on?
As I talked things over later with my wife (a nurse by background) at home, I remembered how impressed I’d been by the professionalism and dedication of the people I’d met. I was optimistic about the future and looking forward to going back for Day 2!