Looking out for the unknown


Stuart Bolton,
Engagement Manager,
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

It is always with some trepidation, as well as excitement, that I start a new piece of work as there is always that element of ‘unknown’ which I am looking for and which is waiting to reveal itself. 

At the beginning of February, I started working with the Local Government Association (LGA) Care and Health Improvement Programme (CHIP). This started with a round of interviews with leaders from across the local health and care landscape to understand what it is that those in a leadership role need to know and do to help develop information sharing. 

Those questions about the unknown were in my head.  I was wondering if the people I was approaching would want to be involved (I was asking some very busy people for an hour of their time), what would be their response to the questions I needed to ask and will the people I speak to actually ‘get it’ – that is how culture, people and behaviours influence information sharing.  And then there is always the curiosity and intrigue about what new insight and understanding is going to reveal itself, something that has kept me interested over the last four years in working on this issue of information sharing and culture.

So, after interviews with 13 different leaders from Surrey, Essex, Bradford and Leeds including senior elected members, chairs of health and wellbeing boards, directors of social care, chief officers of clinical commission groups and directors of public health what has been my experience and what has come to light?

One thing I learnt was not to underestimate the value of conversation and giving people an opportunity to reflect - no matter how busy they are.  The response from individual leaders has been overwhelmingly positive, with people finding something of benefit to them coming out of each of the conversations I had.  

Some valued the chance to take stock of everything that had been achieved and see the progress that had been made in information sharing locally.  Others managed to get sight of issues that they need to turn their attention to next.  For some this was understanding what strengths they have as leaders that can be used to support information sharing.  For others they identified where they need to put their energies to sustain and grow successful information sharing.

I don’t want to steal the thunder of the forthcoming information sharing top tips for leaders that the LGA will be publishing, but one common message was the need to learn from what works in information sharing both locally and in other places and to celebrate these successes.  

The LGA, NHS Clinical Commissioners and NHS Providers are providing the opportunity for this at the National Strategic Summit: Delivering Health and Care in a Digital Age  on 27 March 2018 in Birmingham.  Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health will be speaking at the event and a whole of host of local places will be sharing their successes and learning on how they are using digital and data to transform local health and care.

If you want to find out the other things I leant about leadership then sign up to our newsletter and we will send you a copy of the top tips when they are released.

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