This essay will be used as a tool to critique and improve my leadership and management skills as this is essential to the changes that are needed in the NHS improvement plan. In this process I have identified my leadership strengths as well as my development needs. I have used self assessment and feedback from colleagues in the form of my managers, peers and direct reports. I have also reflected upon my vision and style of management and further identified areas that can be enhanced into making me a more versatile leader as this is important to the NHS modernisation programme (DH 2000). With this information I have formulated an action plan that is SMART (Specific, Measureable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time bound) (NHS Leadership Qualities Framework 2002).
Leadership is essential and central to the current NHS modernisation programme. In fact the department of health quotes
“anyone working in the NHS regardless of their position, grade, qualification or place of work, may be a leader or agent of change and improvement” (DH 2001).
In simple terms the department of health is looking towards its own staff to develop and deliver their NHS improvement plan and are looking for visionary staff at all levels of experience (DH 1999). The changes that I have had to lead and am currently leading have been driven by reducing waiting times for new case patients as well as implementing the “18 week Pathway” from referral to treatment (DH 2006). Other drivers for change and improvement have been the implementation of the “Choose and Book” system, whereby patients are invited to choose where they are referred and given the option of booking their appointments. The reason for these changes on a whole has been to provide a faster, more user friendly and convenient access to care for patients requiring treatment (DH 2005).
My professional title is Head of Orthoptic Services which is an allied health profession. I have to provide clinical leadership whilst ensuring a comprehensive and equitable service is provided that is responsive to changing needs, that is flexible to change and has to directly follow department of health guidelines and changes. My leadership role is to manage and develop the Orthoptic Services within the framework of national guidelines and ensure that effective communication across 3 hospital based departments, out-reach clinics, special schools and screening clinics is adhered to, to enable effect change. Within this role I am met with challenges that are set from management levels above me that I have to react to within my sphere of influence. These may include financial management, staffing levels, waiting targets and service developments in line with the NHS improvement plan (DH 2004). In providing these changes the challenges that I face are mainly down to financial constraints and staffing levels. Staffing levels are always an issue since our department lost a member of staff due to recruitment and retention, and as a method of cost savings the post was dissolved. Conflict is often an issue as change is at this time frequent and often initially met with resistance and negativity; I myself can initially have these reactions and project them.