Not All Heroes Wear White Coats

Recently I have had the privilege of closing a Leadership Programme with a group of Senior Leaders at NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group on the Compassionate & Inclusive Leadership in Cheshire Programme (CLiC). As part of their final presentation to the Executive Team the group were tasked with providing feedback about what they had learned on the Programme and how this had impacted on them. As part of that they produced a 2-minute video that highlighted the events of last year and the roles that staff had fulfilled as part of the pandemic effort.

Although the piece was only 2 minutes long it was incredibly moving to see the reality of what was faced on a daily and hourly basis by CCG staff. The piles of PPE that arrived and had to be distributed to local community and primary care services; Shifting resources around the system at pace to ensure staff were safe at work and could work remotely and more recently working 24/7 to set up and run the vaccination programme through local centres and community healthcare providers. All of this done with care and compassion and smiling faces.

There has been a phrase used throughout the pandemic which says “Not all heroes wear capes” referring to the frontline staff who have toiled and suffered to ensure people get the treatment they need to deal with the impact of the virus. For this the nation owes them a great debt and personally for me all NHS staff are heroes. However, this is my tribute to the other people in the NHS who support the frontline – the back room boys and girls who have been doing their thing to support the covid effort.

In leadership terms the covid pandemic brought a unique and unifying aspect to the work of the NHS – a national common goal that mobilised millions of staff to work together. Talking to colleagues in many CCGs – the camaraderie and dedication that was brought to the table was second to none and I have listened to impassioned Directors who have talked about their inspirational teams who went above and beyond the day job because they cared and are still doing so even as the effort is now focussing more on business as usual.

Having heard first-hand from such a dedicated and hardworking team that have quietly got on with the job it just felt right to shine a spotlight on them in recognition of what an amazing job they do. When you go for your covid vaccination to a community centre or GP Practice just remember who played a leading role in getting the supplies there for you and your family – that was the work of CCGs and their teams working collaboratively with others.

So what of heroic leadership? Here is one definition: Heroic leadership is the pinnacle of leadership, conducted by a transformed and enlightened leader who seeks to transform and enlighten others. The NHS has not weathered the pandemic through the heroic efforts of one transformational leader (in spite of the politicians vying for that position) but through everyone stepping up to be a leader every day in everything they do. So whilst I applauded the frontline staff every Thursday and they will always have my admiration for what they do; in my book not all heroes wear white coats and I want to pay tribute to all those staff who work in CCGs and all of the support services to the frontline.

Dawn Scott