Let’s get honest about ourselves ….

What does a good day at work look like for you? What do we need to do to increase those experiences?  What’s a bad day? How do we decrease those experiences?  These are the kinds of questions I’ll be asking you over the coming months as part of our values refresh.  I like to think about this as coming clean and being honest with ourselves about what makes our system a great place to work and when it isn’t as good, why?  It’s also important that we stretch our conversations to include our colleagues who work in primary and community-based organisations – they are part of our patient’s experience of healthcare.   So what do values have to do with patient safety and quality of care?

“The systematic neglect of culture in health and health care is the single biggest barrier to the advancement of the highest standard of healthcare worldwide.” 

This is a quote from the Lancet, a respected international medical journal talking about, of all things… culture and values!  It’s simple to me – if patients’ experiences are positive and engaging, we get a lot of satisfaction as health professionals.  If we are better engaged as staff and supported in our workplace by our colleagues, we deliver better patient experiences. These things drive quality of care improvement.

Here is a link to the slides we discussed as an Executive Leadership Team, when we discussed the importance of values.  In particular, check out the ‘wordles’ of what our patients complain about and compliment us on.  You will see these graffiti boards around the site.  Are these the words that you want patients to use to describe us?  There is also a list of references that may be helpful for those of us who need a bit more evidence on how values and culture contribute to improving quality of care.

We all come to work with a  lifetime of experience (at any age!) including a work and clinical practice background that shape how we think, behave and react to what goes on around us.  Most of our healthcare is delivered as teams – are we treating each other in our teams as well as we would like?  I have seen amazing examples of our staff giving the best care and respect to their patients because they genuinely care and are professionals.  Some of these moments I have blogged about in the past.  The Team Counties blog also shares some of these insights directly from the people doing the work.

I’m also aware of examples where our patients don’t experience the best care – in fact I often hear directly from our patients when we don’t!  We sometimes behave towards each other in ways that do not reflect our existing values of teamwork, professionalism and partnership – again, I often hear directly from staff at all levels of the organisation!  Now I’d like us to talk to each other across the organisation and the system…. that’s what this process is about.

A good day at work for me is when I see you – my colleagues – being really proud and excited about the work you do. I feel especially proud when I hear from patients and their whaanau/families that they can participate positively in their lives because of the great care we provided.   A good day at work for me is when I hear honest feedback from people about what we could do better.  So let’s get talking.


P.S. For those of you wondering why I am writing my blog while on leave, it’s not because I cut my holiday short.  I managed to write this before I left.  Enjoy!


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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.

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