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Being visible on wards and understanding frontline staff is “critical” for hospital leaders

PUBLISHED

A retiring chief executive was “astonished” how many junior doctors had never met the senior directors of their hospitals — and stressed how being visible on the wards is “critical” to good leadership.

Karen Partington, who has this month stepped down after 10 years leading Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust, said she had made it her mission to understand the feelings and motivations of frontline staff.

In an interview with HSJ, she was asked if being visible and spending significant time talking to frontline staff is the most important bit of advice she would give a first-time chief executive.

She said: “In my personal opinion, it’s critical. How can CEOs be compassionate leaders without understanding the daily pressures faced by the whole team?"

“My executive team and I [would] meet regularly with our junior doctors and do a ‘you said, we did’ session, which really helped us to change their experiences for the better. But it was also an opportunity to ensure our frontline colleagues understood the environment they were working in as well. I have always found that when people understand ‘why’, [then] they will come up with the solutions."

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Source: HSJ, 14 September 2021

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