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Ethics and Courage

30 September 2016

On my first full week back, it somehow seems harder to get up with the darker mornings, but that might just be down to my age!

Ethics and courage

This week I want to return to the issue of ethics and courage. You all know I am a fan of Koestenbaum’s leadership diamond. The top of the diamond is ethics, the bottom is courage. The last few weeks have tested both, particularly around how we transform services.

One of the key challenges for the health service is to be able to have an honest conversation with the public about why we cannot continue to provide services in the same way as we do now. We have to be able to articulate what needs to change and why, then clearly set out the benefits.

There is always a risk that any proposed changes might be seen by the public as a reduction in services, therefore, what we need to do is demonstrate through an ethical approach that this is not the case. However, we also have to be courageous and not put off by change, even though the initial reaction may be negative. We just need to make sure we get much better at effectively communicating change, which in my experience has not always been the case.

Leaders require an ethical framework to work within and the courage to deal with difficult challenges, which involve politicians. It is clear to me that change is required for the NHS to survive and, at an intellectual level, politicians get it. But when it comes to the crunch are they prepared to support change by also being courageous alongside NHS leaders?

As leaders, we will need to help local and national politicians to hold their nerve on changes required by being clear on the benefits to their constituents. Change will not be easy; you only need to look back at the Trust Special Administration process in Stafford.

Leaders have to demonstrate that they continue to undertake work in an ethical manner but also have the courage to see things through because in many cases it would be far easier to stop.

Andy 

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