The NHS is changing. In line with the Government’s reforms primary care trusts are being abolished with the planning and management of local health services, called commissioning, moving to local GPs and clinicians. The new structures will be in place by April 2013.

In Bath and North East Somerset clinical commissioning arrangements to replace the PCT are well developed. Locally a team of six doctors and a practice manager are working in shadow format with the PCT to support this programme.  Simon Douglas is the Clinical Accountable Officer for Bath and NE Somerset Clinical commissioning Group (CCG).

Simon encouraged all the clinical leads in his CCG to choose a coach from the approved list provided by the Strategic Health Authority, to go through 360 feedback and embark on one to one executive coaching. Simon chose Baz from the Register on the basis of his biography and experience.  ‘I have experienced leadership development before and found it useful but sometimes it missed the mark. I liked Baz’s ethos and knew he would challenge me. I wanted to have a sense of my own capability as I moved from my previous role to the CCG, and I wanted to know what I needed to develop further. I was looking for the coaching to start to push me along further; start to develop my thinking about my behaviours, encourage me to take a few risks. I identified a few situations where I didn’t feel things had gone well. We explored them which gave me some insights into what hadn’t worked and I then tried out a few different behaviours  – that went well. I have been experimenting with throwing my weight around a bit more, with knowing when I need to do that.’

‘I had some very good discussions with Baz about modern leadership in the NHS. He’s good at challenging you but not in a threatening way. Modern leadership will need to be different – it’s not about coming up with the master plan and then expecting others to fall in behind you and implement it. The NHS is too complex for that – people have to get better at working out what the real issues and problems are, working out their own solutions and really taking ownership. Just carrying on in your own merry way isn’t sustainable. I see my role as to encourage people up the hill towards change while I have to accept that they will be at different stages themselves.’

During the sessions, Simon found his views and perceptions about leadership started to shift. He had been very aware of the size of the job the CCG are facing and of the complex, ever-shifting environment they work in. He has found that he is much more comfortable accepting that it’s a chaotic world.

‘It’s not about being a heroic leader – I can’t have all the answers. Leaders need to be brave – which means to let go. The CCG will need to let go of their agenda so that the agenda can be owned by GP practices instead.’

On a personal level, Simon found the coaching provided him with a necessary sounding board and a motivating influence. ‘Baz is passionate about his subject – I always looked forward to the sessions and came out energised. I’d recommend him to anyone – unless they want Baz to tell them the answers. He doesn’t do that! You have to do the thinking and find answers for yourself.’

Simon Douglas
Clinician Accountable Officer (designate), Bath and North East Somerset CCG

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