Healthcare through a new lens
After attending the recent intensive week of the third module on 'systems leading in comparative health systems', my flow of thoughts is repeatedly focussed on how to reframe the myriad challenges healthcare provision is facing. Having attended an excellent module of learning around systems thinking and leadership, I am more hopeful for the emerging future of global health and equally for the healthcare system closer to me, the National Health Service (NHS). The feeling of being able to make a difference, even a small one, has been setting in slowly since I joined a unique inaugural cohort as part of the of Masters in Global Healthcare Leadership, brought together by Saïd Business School and Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. The mountain can after all be moved, even if a little, and I now feel that there is a direction to take. I returned to my work in the NHS with a new lens of systems thinking, with the ability to see the complex whole, observing and reflecting with better insight into the connections between individual elements of the system. I see in my mind’s eye, the power maps and causal loops lighting up, showing the critical interdependencies that are essential to recognise for services to co-create and succeed.
A global challenge
Healthcare provision is a bigger challenge post Covid-19. I am saying that bearing in mind that we have not really seen the back of Covid-19 yet and it may stay with us forever. The effects of climate change on health and well-being are becoming more evident too. We are witnessing natural disasters causing large-scale damage to life and property. What is clear is that health and healthcare provision globally is suffering. That includes physical as well as mental health. The healthcare provision at best is compromised and at worst is collapsing, including in the organised healthcare systems. The class divides are starker, access is limited, with inequity of global healthcare provision more prevalent than before.
The trials of a complex healthcare system
The NHS, an otherwise revered institution in Britain, is currently exposed to a significant degree of negative press, with long waits for appointments, elective surgeries, as well as emergency care. In extreme cases it has been reported people are dying waiting for ambulances. The system, as it is set up, is under strain and needs radical rethinking.
The idea of the NHS has been very close to the hearts of the British public since its inception. Presented in William Beveridge’s report published in 1942, on road to reconstruction, for a better post war Britain, the idea caught people’s imagination and became a reality in July 1948 two years after the National Health Service bill was presented to the parliament in 1946, by Aneurin Bevan. The UK’s love for the NHS was displayed with national pride during the inauguration of London 2012 Olympics. As one of the world’s largest organised universal healthcare providers, free at point of delivery, the NHS is perhaps the most complex healthcare system, constituting multiple complex systems within. For years it has been a subject of awed admiration and envy of the world.
Scientific rigour, relevance, and captivating learning sessions
Having worked in the NHS for more than 20 years, and having recently experienced a senior global medical leadership assignment in India, in a progressive start-up organisation, in an unregulated healthcare sector of reproductive health in India, this inaugural Oxford master’s programme came timely, and to my enormous benefit and relief as a passionate healthcare leader.
It is easy to see relevant linkages to module one 'Personal perspectives and challenges of healthcare leader' and module two 'Organisational leadership', leading in a continuum to the third module of 'Systems leading in comparative health systems'. Modules one and two were delivered with as much scientific rigour, relevance, and captivating learning sessions as module three. I will take further opportunities in due course to share my impressions about this unmatchable unique course, about the faculty who are masters in their subjects, about the opportunity this platform has given me to meet and know like-minded healthcare leaders from diverse sectors across the world making purposeful alliances, and about the joy of spending time as an Oxford University student in the charming city of Oxford.
Ending for now with a quote from Warren Bennis on leadership:
'Like phoenixes arising from ashes, they emerge from adversity stronger, more confident in themselves and their purpose, and more committed to their work.'