The IHM is the leading independent membership organisation for managers and leaders who commission, deliver and support health and care in the UK and across the world.
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There is a rather good book by James Kerr entitled ‘Legacy’ which explores the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team and the values system which now pervades every age group and senior team of New Zealand rugby. The values were designed by a collection of past and present players after an embarrassing display in a match versus South Africa in 2004 that led to considerable soul-searching. I won’t spoil the book contents for you should you wish to read it, but one key facet is ‘Whakapapa’. This does not mean being violent towards one’s father but, rather, is Maori and translates loosely as ‘Ancestry’. The word is used to define a value – ‘be a good ancestor: plant trees you’ll never see’.
This weekend marks a milestone in the life of the NHS as we celebrate the 72nd anniversary of its formation on July 5th. Various events and commemorations are planned and I’ll certainly participate within the strictures of lockdown still perpetuated by the Welsh government! The build up to the celebration, amid the wreckage of Covid19, leaves me pondering Whakapapa.
Amongst your NHS colleagues, be assured that there are good numbers now who also enjoy membership of our Institute. If we look back at the archives, it is possible to trace the ‘birth’ of the IHM right back to 1902 with the formation of what was then titled the Hospital Officers Association. Through various iterations including Institute of Hospital Administrators (after a merger with another group) and Institute of Health Service Administrators we arrived in 1998 and the Institute of Healthcare Management. If you would like to ready the entire history (well worth the effort but it is a 2 Hob-Nob session!) go to https://www.ihm.org.uk/about-us/history/.
Looking at this photograph taken of an Institute dinner in approximately 1927, I wonder what members of the Institute would have made of the idea that it would be going strong nearly 100 years later? What would they be considering as their legacy, beyond a mild bout of indigestion if the cummerbunds or corsets were a little too tight!
Well, if we go back to Whakapapa, the trees that they had planted were principally focused on a strong commitment to education, personal development, camaraderie and support – elements that we continue to be wholly committed to in today’s environment. Our new short courses, HealthChats, regional leadership workshops and the new IHM digital library of development videos are testament to the fact that their legacy is being well tended.
So what of the legacy which we are creating today? I think that we can be proud of the way in which the NHS and IHM members across the UK and world have responded to the threat of Covid19. You can hear more about a wealth of those responses at next week’s ‘No Going Back’ conference and the single most important aspect that I identify is an almost universal spirit of ‘can-do’ positivity. Thousands of you in both clinical and non-clinical roles have been retrained to focus on new or revised roles. Huge logistic challenges around beds, treatments, PPE, protected zones, and testing reagents have been faced. Whatever the fallability of governments, I am confident that NHS and social care managers and staff have gone above and beyond what anyone could have reasonably expected.
The All Blacks like to refer to the idea that the wearer of one of their shirts is simply a custodian of it until the next wearer is good enough to pull it on. I’m confident that we at the IHM are leaving the NHS and social care shirt well-worn but clean and perfectly ready for the next wearer!
Stay strong, stay safe and thank you for the brilliant work you are each doing.