Jump to content
  • Swimming with the tide, a blog by Sally Howard

    Sally Howard
    • UK
    • Blogs
    • New
    • Everyone


     We have an overwhelming demand for our healthcare services. This blog from Sally Howard suggests some things we can do to keep afloat. 


    We have an overwhelming demand for services, both emergency and planned. It was already there, but then Covid landed and it has all being exacerbated by the loss of experienced practitioners and an unhealthy dose of disillusionment.

    There are very comprehensive reports on the numbers if you need details on the size of the challenge including .[1

    We know the link between anxiety, stress, burnout of staff and poorer patient safety. So here are some thoughts on what we can do:

    1. Do be 100% clear and honest about the size of the challenge for your team

    The numbers will speak for themselves. If you have capacity for 10 service requests a day and receive 15, either your long queue will grow by 5 a day or you will be spending time trying to divert them elsewhere.

    Understand the whole picture and don’t be persuaded to over promise on what you can do; be realistic. Our services have brilliant teams. This is a team activity, especially as some colleagues will have experience of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. The team’s ownership will give you a strong foundation from which to move forward.

    2. Make best use of the talent and resources you do have

    Tracking your activity daily can help ensure you are using the resources you do have. Taking a moment to look around and see where you may be missing contributions from other colleagues. And celebrating the good stuff – the thanks you receive, how well that patient pathway change you made during Covid is working, appreciating the brilliance of those around you.

    3. Do look after yourself and each other

    If you are one of those people finding that your workday is always following you home for a glass of wine, notice how often this is happening. Now and then maybe, but every day is worrying and habit forming.

    There are support services there that you can use, both internally and outside your organisation. In the South East, the NHS Leadership Academy has just launched a ‘crisis coaching’ service: Coaching in a Crisis – South East Leadership Academy.

    Seeking this support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Coaching offers a safe confidential thinking space to work things through. Other parts of the country also have coaching networks – just search on the NHS Leadership Academy for the link to your local coaches or support within your own organisation.

    4. And finally, don’t compromise safety in the process 

    There will be pressure to drive faster and harder. While waits for any treatment are not what we want to offer, this cannot be at any cost.

    Equally if you are feeling great about the response of your team to your everyday challenges – fantastic. Do share your story.

    “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden


    1. Rocks S, Boccarini G, Charlesworth A, et al. Health and social care funding to 2024/25. The Health Foundation, September 2021.

    Further reading:

    About the Author

    Sally has held national and local leadership roles within the NHS in a career spanning more than 30 years. A respected leader, passionate about improvement and inclusivity, she is trained in quality improvement methodologies and has spent the last 20 years in their practical application. She is a topic lead for the hub focussing on leading for improvement. She is also a practising coach because its rarely just about the ‘what’ you do, it’s also ‘the way that you do it’. She works with leaders of small and large teams as a thinking partner to help them be their ‘best selves’ at work.

    1 reactions so far


    Recommended Comments

    There are no comments to display.

    Create an account or sign in to comment

    You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

    Create an account

    Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

    Register a new account

    Sign in

    Already have an account? Sign in here.

    Sign In Now
  • Create New...