Scandals in healthcare have long been a staple ingredient in the diet of the media – I am sure that everyone reading this will have no difficulty recalling an event or events and the scathing criticism of those deemed to be responsible.
In the UK, the Francis report into the unnecessary deaths of more than 1,000 patients in the care of Stafford Hospital has led to renewed calls for the old days where care, compassion and humanity were the watchwords of professionalism. Have we lost our way by focusing on management and targets, guidelines, regulatory compliance and trying to dodge ambulance-chasing lawyers?
But we know that the issues are certainly not confined to this one hospital trust nor to the UK; in every country where MPS has members, similar themes emerge. Calls for a return to core professional values and strong leadership echo time and again.
The case reports in Casebook also reflect that the same errors are repeated – but we have a better understanding now of the predisposing factors: poor communication and lack of empathy, which increase the chance of a claim after a precipitating event, such as an adverse outcome.
In this edition we take a look at leadership from a different direction – the skill of followership. It’s not a term many doctors will embrace immediately – images of sheep certainly came to my mind when I first came across the term, but I am taken by the logical and accurate descriptions of how this skill can influence team behaviours and success.
The media coverage of healthcare recently has just felt like an endless catalogue of horror after horror and can be dispiriting; in Casebook we try not to focus overly on what went wrong, but what learning can be shared – and that not every allegation succeeds.
As ever, we hope that this is a relevant and interesting insight into cases we have handled, and stimulates reflection on how to look after yourself and your patients in ever more challenging times.
Dr Stephanie Bown – Editor-in-chief
MPS Director of Policy and Communications