Take a Moment of Reprieve

Sixteen years ago my best friend died suddenly of cancer, leaving behind a young family. A tragedy like that always has a profound impact on you. For me, it prompted me to think about things differently, to re-evaluate what was important and to put greater value on the many small details in life which we often overlook when we get busy and stressed.

I thought about those sentiments earlier this week when I attended a piano recital one evening. Lately it seems like time is running away on us. We never seem to have enough time in the day, running from pillar to post all day at work and then doing the very same thing at home in the evenings to look after our families. Lately I’ve found it difficult to find time just to stop and draw breath.

All the medical evidence is very clear about the fundamental importance of looking after ourselves and doing small things every day for our own wellbeing. In particular, most of us should be getting more sleep than we do. It’s also important to take what I think of as moments of reprieve. Keeping yourself well and healthy isn’t just about exercise, healthy eating or being immunised, but also about carving out moments to drop down a gear and stand back from the busy and demanding pace of modern life.

The piano recital I attended featured a young and very talented pianist. As he sat down and started to play, I was absorbed. For the duration of his performance, I was able to leave behind life’s complexities, relax and concentrate wholly on the beautiful sounds I was hearing. I found myself marvelling, not just at the music but also at the technical skill of this 23-year-old which enabled him to conjure such an astounding performance out of an instrument made only of wire and wood.

Twenty minutes later when the performance finished, I was suddenly reminded how incredibly important moments like that are. How powerful it is just to stop, sit and appreciate a small and simple thing. For me, these moments often happen when I listen to music but there are many other ways people have of taking a moment of reprieve from the usual pace of life. Whatever they may be, I think they are an integral part of who we are as human beings.

So whatever rose you like to smell, I ask you to please make sure you make the time today to do just that. Stop, sit, think, relax. Show yourself some of the kindness, care and compassion that you so selflessly show to our patients.

Speaking of selflessness, I read today that Stephen Sutton, the inspirational English teenager who raised almost $6m (NZD) while battling bowel cancer, has passed away aged just 19. If you haven’t already seen his inspiring story, I’d invite you to read about what this optimistic and positive young man was able to achieve for others even as his own health declined. It, too, is incredibly powerful stuff.



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

5 thoughts on “Take a Moment of Reprieve”

  1. Tena koe e te rangatira mo o whakaaro hohonu-e tika ana me ki- kia ata haere, kia whakarongo a kia maharahara ki ou awangawanga kia pai tou ahua-tena koe

  2. I agree and so happy that the organization is embracing this through their Mindfulness training and Wednesday lunchtime drop-in sessions in Ko Awatea.

  3. Thank you for caring Geriant…how true it is that we ALL have to stop, relax, smell the roses and enjoy life. You rock 🙂

  4. What a lovely thought Boss I totally agree with you, we always busy, busy, busy, never stop and think about ourselves and our families. I will share this highly comment and advice with my husband and my friends too. You are a champion, May God bless you and family

  5. Geraint…loved your words today and wholeheartedly agree…we do need to take time to stop and just be, to immerse ourselves in what is going on around us.

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