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A look back at my summer reading

Once again my family and I had a couple of weeks off in Portugal in the summer. I spent time with my family, ran, played tennis, went out for the occasional meal and read lots of books in the Algarve sun.

My colleague Laura, Trust librarian, always asks me about my summer reading, so I thought I’d share the insights I gleaned with you. One book I read was Zatopek – my colleague lent it to me because I’m running the London marathon next spring for our hospital’s My WiSH Charity. Emil Zatopek was an Olympic legend and long distance runner from the communist Czech Republic, and his wife was a gold medal Javelin thrower; the Posh and Becks of their time!

Zatopek’s training regimes were quite novel for the 1950s; traditionally long distance runners used to clock up lots of miles, but instead Zatopek did lots of short runs at full pelt, what we now call high intensity training. This gives you the speed you need for marathons. By putting in hard work over time, you can use modern science to improve what you do. We do this in the NHS when we develop quality improvement projects.

Equally interesting was how hard Zatopek trained and how he was always looking to learn from others. As I always say, we should pinch with pride (or steal for Suffolk) any good NHS ideas that we see and could use across our services.

I also read Harry Redknapp’s biography, and a few nuggets stood out amongst all the good stories.

Harry says that even brilliant players need feedback. Sir Bobby Moore, the 1966 World Cup winning captain, mentioned to Harry that in all the time he was at West Ham, manager Ron Greenwood never once said “well done”. According to Harry, “No matter who you are there is nothing like having someone put their arm around you and say ‘well done’”. I call this “more thanks than spanks”. It is about saying well done to your team, showing that you appreciate it when they go the extra mile. It makes a meaningful difference.

Harry values the importance of training. Apparently Frank Lampard senior’s pace wasn’t quick enough, so he was going to be transferred to Torquay. Frank put the work in, every day after training, to improve. In the NHS it’s the hard work we put into training, practising, and simulations that makes us safer. It doesn’t just happen. It requires graft and teamwork behind the scenes.

Harry also talks about a boss’ open door policy. In the 1950s-60s the manager’s door wasn’t open - only once you established yourself in the first team after a few years might you be on first name terms with the boss. In today’s world you have to understand your players and what makes them tick to get the best out of them.

In today’s healthcare it’s important that all members of the team know who I am, and feel they can approach me. People need the freedom to speak up and to feel empowered to know they have the freedom to improve.

Another topic Harry discusses is the influx of foreign players fundamentally shifting football to make the game richer and more professional. But he acknowledges that this also created problems that were not dealt with well. When a footballer moves to a new team in a new country they need to be looked after and helped to settle in.

We have welcomed nearly 100 Filipino nurses to our Trust since July 2018. They’ve left their families, friends and sometimes their children to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones by helping our hospital and community. This is a big deal. Our employee of the year, Ali Devlin, and the Filipino community, led by Marylou and Richard, have done an invaluable job making sure new colleagues feel welcomed, secure, and part of our team.

The final thing I took from Harry was that everyone matters - from the tea lady to the boot room boys, to the physios or the dieticians and the players. Whether you are a nurse, porter, doctor, housekeeper, physio, accountant, secretary, volunteer or a member of the Board, we’re all part of an award-winning team that must respect each other. We all play our part in delivering outstanding care.

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Steve Dunn, chief executive

Steve Dunn, chief executive