Getting it right!
Every day in our health service we as Managers are engaged with our patients, clients and service users, through many millions of interactions that go right and make a difference – yet much of the media’s focus is on a very small percentage of what goes wrong.
Trial by media, in the glare and gaze of the court of public opinion is common. Individuals get accused in the media, get tried by the media often without the opportunity to defend themselves and in some cases get executed – all in the name of news or in the public interest. Then the news machine moves onto the next story, leaving behind a trail of destruction and personal trauma behind it.
Many politicians are influenced and led by the media, but it is a fickle master. Those of us who manage in the health service are managing in a far more politicised environment which is permanently under the gaze of the media which has an insatiable appetite or column inches to fill, or reports or stories to file. As a consequence of the media spotlight the complexity of what we do has increased and this has added an additional dimension to our work. Doing the right thing is vitally important, but not only have we to do that, but we’ve got to be able to prove and justify our actions simply, effectively and quickly so that the reader / listener can understand that we acted appropriately.
Managers need to understand the power of the media and be ever vigilant around it, yet we should not be deflected away from doing the right thing, just to avoid its intrusion. Being respectful of our staff and of our patients/service users, being honest, acting as we say with integrity, transparency and compassion are tools that can help us as we grapple with this increasingly complex issue.
One thing for sure is that we cannot avoid the media, as we will become exposed to it whether we like it or not. I would suggest that we embrace the challenge with our eyes open, a bit like hugging a tiger; be circumspect, watchful, mindful and on our guard.