Who would want to be a digital health blogger? Seconds of inspiration lead to minutes of typing which lead to hours of making sure you have the right URL embedded, the right layout, put in the right tags, tipped your hat to everyone who has helped, not caused offence (well not too much anyway), and so on. And for what? Occasionally you run into someone at a show who says how much they like a post, and that’s it. Well not quite, because there’s a wonderful sense of release when you’ve got something burning inside you out in the open, even if nothing comes back to you.
This came to mind recently because another drawback of being a blogger is that people send you stuff they think is important and get quite irate if you don’t agree (and so don’t blog it). One such piece is the announcement last week that David Allison, Chief Executive at Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation and former Chief Operating Officer for Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is joining Draper & Dash to add “to their stellar executive board team dedicated to enabling world-class digital analytics platforms”. I’ll say straight away that I don’t know why someone with such impeccable-looking credentials is taking essentially what used to be called a “desk job”, so I mean nothing personal by picking this example. It just happened to be the one that spurred me into action.
It does worry me though that the ranks of those who consult, those who advise, and those who analyse the NHS from outside appear to be swelling, whereas the ranks of those with the really tough job of delivering a world-class health service under severe resource constraint appear to be shrinking. Although I’m an ardent fan of digital health and do feel that over time it will have the ability significantly to reduce the resource requirements of providing excellent health and care, nevertheless we will always need visionary managers in the NHS and Social Care – and indeed will need to continue to develop visionary managers in the NHS – to accept responsibility for continuing to improve health and care delivery in the UK. That won’t happen if we end up with a wide array of ex-NHS and Social Care employees advising the few remaining stalwarts how to improve. Put another way, if any readers picked up the reference to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance in the title to this blog, a rewriting of the first verse of the Policeman’s Song might go:
When a person’s not engaged in health employment (health employment)
But analysing other people’s 5 year plans (5 year plans)
Their capacity for digital deployment (digital deployment)
Is much reduced than any hands-on man’s (hands-on man’s)
Our feelings we with difficulty smother (-culty smother)
When commentary duty’s to be done (to be done)
Ah, take one consideration with another (with another)
A blogger’s lot is not a happy one (happy one)
(…and that’s something else that makes blogging bearable: having fun with words.)