I was incredibly privileged to be asked to speak at the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme 2013 intake welcome event in Leeds on Monday.
What really struck me and left me in total awe was the end of the day – the trainees were given a short brief ‘1 minute to make a promise to one another’. Putting it in the context that most of the 100 trainees were on their 1st day in the NHS it was a sight to behold. The trainees made pledges such as ‘we promise to stand collectively as one voice for the NHS’ ‘we promise to stay true to our values’ and ‘we promise to put patients at the centre of all we do’. After only 1 day these value based promises were emerging with such courage and conviction.
This really got me thinking about what makes the NHS workforce so special and different to others such as the private sector and my conclusion is LOVE. So this may sound gushy and if you’re feeling slightly weak in the stomach maybe look away now but Love is everywhere in the NHS.
Karen Lynas said last year at the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme induction event that one thing that is a predictor of life expectancy and will aid progression through any illness is knowing that someone loves you and for me this sits perfectly with what I’m about to say
Love – it runs in all forms through our beautiful NHS from the mum who has just given birth to her bundle of joy to the elderly lady who kisses her lifelong soul mate goodnight for the last time and all those relations and connections in between.
As a nurse I have witnessed all kinds of emotional moments that encompass love, babies being born, a mum losing her 7 year old son, the elderly man who felt as though he had lost his life when his wife passed away, the scared young boy who was trapped in the car who’s hand I held whilst the roof was cut off as his mum prayed by the roadside…..the list is endless. We all know that the NHS is bursting with emotional stories of love and love lost, it’s the nature of what we do – ‘the NHS touches our lives at times of basic human need when care and compassion are what matter most’.
Why is Love so important to us as human beings? Love makes you feel valued, it gives you a sense of purpose, and it drives passion. It makes it worthwhile, people will go further for love, it makes you feel cared for and appreciated. Love allows us to feel and therefore show compassion for others it makes us happy and motivated, it drives us and allows us to believe and dream. Having a self-love is also essential – believing in yourself loving who you are by doing this we can shine as individuals and inspire others.
There are so many people in the NHS that love it, also so many people who use its services and are truly grateful for the difference it makes to their lives. This is why I believe that Love is what makes the NHS what it is today, we are a different breed to all others we hold compassion in our hearts, we want to help others not for any profit but for self-fulfilment and a sense of emotional wellbeing.
If we can continue to lead through love and the feelings it evokes within us, if we can create a culture that puts not only patients but staff at the heart of what we do then I truly believe that we can reduce some of the tragic failings we have recently witnessed.
As Helen Keller said – ‘All that we love deeply becomes a part of us’ and this is true of all the hardworking staff and fantastic service users who love the NHS and who give fantastic care 365 days a year – because the NHS is not just a job for us, it’s part of us, its engraved within our souls and this is what sets us apart and this is why the NHS Graduates who made their promises on Monday did what they did, they hold the love and values that people in the NHS have.
So what is the thread that weaves through every area in the NHS, from clinical services, to the CEO office? I believe its Love.