Healthcare leadership is failing the people that matter most, our patients

Leadership across healthcare is failing. If there was a school report card it would certainly be marked with a big red F – ‘requires improvement’ – and I even include myself in that.

It’s not because of a lack of passion or expertise or drive. Nobody is doing anything that they believe is not going to benefit patients, but as an industry, we need to work better together. Our failure to see the bigger picture is hurting us and more importantly, our patients.

We need to move away from the sector mentality and think more holistically about the healthcare industry. It shouldn’t be about each of us waving a flag and shouting “look at how great we’re doing”. Pharmacies, GPs, hospitals – even dentists and optometrists – are all judged against individual criteria and performance indicators. But isn’t there just one real indicator of success? Surely, the only measurement that truly matters is patient outcomes.

The economic reimbursement model has encouraged this culture of unconscious competition between healthcare sectors. You only have to look at the large pockets of reluctance among GPs to recommend community pharmacies as a flu vaccination provider to see that there is an issue. It stems from singularity of thought – we have all been working in silo for too long.

Industry leadership must take responsibility for this. We need to talk more, collaborate better and challenge traditional thinking. The government must find a way of bringing the sectors together to create a broader healthcare strategy that we can feed into. Integrating the depth of skills and insights from each of our sectors can only be a good thing.

That’s why I’m calling on Jeremy Hunt to bring us all together and install a healthcare coalition. We need an alliance of representatives from across the world of healthcare to provide a 360 degree view of our challenges and transform the way we tackle them.

We all want better patient outcomes – that’s why we get out of bed in the morning – it’s why we exist. If a patient gets the care and treatment that they need, does it matter how? We are often told to go to pharmacy for ‘x’ or visit your GP for ‘y’ and there seems to be very little wiggle room.

Why? Because that’s how it’s always been done.

We are locked in 20th Century thinking, and as Albert Einstein said “we can’t solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” We need to embrace new technologies, new ideas and new models of care. It’s up to healthcare leadership to create a compelling narrative that speaks to people and builds patient trust and confidence in us.

In the world of pharmacy we have a very similar challenge. There are too many self-help groups saying different things at a time when we need a united front. I am a strong supporter of the sector working together with a voice that represents the interests of everyone and that should be mirrored across the entire healthcare sphere.

We may not always agree on the best way to take things forward, but the best way to progress is to keep the conversation and the debate going.

For the sake of our patients, we must find a way to engage better with leadership groups from across healthcare to transform the way we all deliver care. As soon as we build up barriers, and cut each other out, we start to fail the people that matter, our patients.