Jules Verne’s 1869 novel ‘Earth to the Moon – a direct route in 97 hours, 20 minutes’ is a mighty read. Based on the efforts of the Baltimore Gun Club to build a Columbiad space cannon which would fire 3 men to the moon, it fails to notice that the estimated 120 G-force exerted on the doomed men would reduce them to jam before they had left the muzzle!
In order to escape earth’s atmosphere, an escape velocity of 11.25 kilometres per second is required. This is no easy feat. The magnificent Saturn 5 rockets which successfully propelled Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon in the 1970s contained over 2m kilos of liquid fuel propellant and a cost per launch of $1.3bn at today’s prices. There were 13 launches.
All of this occurred to me as important only in respect of my topic for this week’s editorial. If you want to achieve extraordinary things, you need to be prepared to go to extraordinary lengths.
There have been many challenges of late – from the race to develop Covid vaccines to safely enabling care home visiting and from protecting health & social care workers to delivering virtual primary care and outpatients consultations. None has been easy and there will always be mistakes made along the way but, sooner or later, the aim is always to create sufficient velocity and thrust such that the efforts are ultimately unstoppable. Obstacles are stripped away, drag is removed and thrust built to enable the achievements to be realised.
The key element in all of this is to never give up. By developing resolute will and an unshakeable belief in the merit of what we are trying to achieve we insulate ourselves from the little voice in our eye which urges us to stop.
Our goals and objectives do not always have to be world changing to be worthy of individual endeavour and total commitment. A few years ago I was privileged to host a conference on whistle blowing in the NHS and listened to harrowing stories of consequence – wrecked careers and, occasionally, lives. Breaking the leadership bias and casual discrimination relating to gender, age or race continues to test the resolve of many fantastic campaigners and advocates in health and social care. Calling out the scandals of environmental vandalism in building design, procurement and construction can be an equally lonely course, but several marvellous individuals are prepared to stand up and say ‘enough’. The damage too often wrought by a regulator focused on inspection has many independent objectors continuing to cry ‘foul’ but it is another uphill task to achieve change.
Outside of these national campaigns, there are the people, like you, striving to achieve small successes on a daily basis in an environment which is as tough as it gets – but also equally rewarding and fulfilling when those successes are achieved.
My message today is therefore to cherish and embrace the difficult roles that you perform. Marie Curie perhaps summed the sentiment up best:-
“Life is not easy for any of us – but what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained”.
Marie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the first person to win a Nobel prize twice and the only person ever to win a Nobel prize in 2 different scientific fields.
Be confident, persevere and believe in yourselves. You can do this.
Enjoy your weekend, be safe, be strong and thank you for the brilliant work you are all doing.
This week we heard about the government’s commitment to social care in the spending review. Despite the clapping and the rhetoric, social care has been overlooked once again. The funding for local authorities is miniscule and will no doubt force them to make further cuts to services. The tiny uplift in the national living wage goes nowhere near the appreciation our care workers should be feeling right now.
We are joining many other organisations to urge the government to rethink this decision and to finally show the commitment to social care that they so often express. Wholescale reform and financial contribution are what we need right now! All this against a backdrop of you and your teams soldiering on. You are protecting lives and making smiles day in day out – and I know you won’t stop.
I am also hearing from many of you about the additional pressures of setting up lateral flow testing, moving to two-weekly testing and preparing for the roll out of the vaccines. Not to mention that it seems PPE stock on the portal is running very low. We’re doing all we can to feed this intel to DHSC, so please, keep it coming.
Next week, on the 1st of December, we launch our national campaign #ThanksForCareWorkers. We’ve teamed up with The Care Workers’ Charity, National Care Forum and Thank and Praise. The campaign is designed to demonstrate how critical care workers are to society, alongside colleagues at the NHS, and encourage the public to show their appreciation by posting messages on a virtual thanking wall, as well as gaining much needed donations for the Care Workers’ Charity. Please do keep an eye out for the campaign and come along to the FAB Thank You Show taking place that evening (tell your teams too, everyone is welcome).
As ever, thank you for all that you do.
General Manager for Social Care