How to become a leader in the NHS by Prof Aidan Halligan

…after a while I found out that the facts were totally irrelevant so people would produce papers saying records of everything but actually it didn’t bear any resemblance to what was going on with the inner dynamics of a team in an A&E… …in this department if you didn’t get on with Dolly (the HCA) right up to the top consultant you don’t get on in this department so I asked her what’s the secret? How do you have such respect in this department? “Well it’s down to one thing: kindness. In this A&E the people who are the least sick are often the most anxious. I bring them a cup of tea without being asked – and now before you say a word it costs 3.5p a polystyrene cup, you know when you have a bad day people suffer and when they do I bring them a cup of tea without being asked”… …Dolly got her authority from how much she cared and you can’t contrive it, you get your authority from how much you care… …leadership is going into the unknown with courage and all about how you make other people feel, do the right thing but in particular do it on a difficult day… …no matter how often the GMC try to revalidate us they will never get close to what really makes a Doctor effective, Patients want to know how much you care before they want to know how much you know…

I was honoured to have presented at the National Health Summit in Croke Park last year where Professor Halligan captivated the audience with the opening keynote. He sadly passed away yesterday aged 57. Like so many Irish trained healthcare workers who have contributed so greatly to the NHS the late Aidan Halligan wasn’t in it for the credit. The proper people never are.

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