Longstay: plausibility and deniability will mark my tenure as chair

In an open letter to the Blithering Argus, Sir Trevor Longstay celebrates his first 100 days in charge of the ICS, and muses on his legacy

It is 100 days since I took the helm at the Blithering ICS and, by Jove, we’ve achieved a lot in that time.

I take huge pride and not a little credit for the vaccination programme, which has been delivered on our behalf by US-owned GP consortium the Rummage Group. Thanks to Dr Rummage and his dedicated team of shareholders, nearly 2 million doses of vaccine have already been administered – a not insignificant income-generating achievement in a population of just 360,000.

We were also among the first areas to start a large-scale programme of vaccination for children. This has been a huge success thanks to our out-of-area advertising, our ground-breaking TikTok campaign featuring John Craven of Newsround fame, and our “no questions asked” approach to eligibility. If you look 12 and you can give a verbal assurance of parental consent, that’s good enough for us.

And, of course, we are particularly focused on the needs of the most vulnerable. I and the rest of the Blithering ICS board were honoured and privileged to be first in the queue for covid boosters, flu jabs and complimentary mince pies when the Rummage Jabs’R’Us hub opened for its winter season last Saturday.

While it’s tempting to dwell on the success of the vaccination programme, I feel compelled to write a sentence or two about the significant challenges also facing the health system, such as critical staff shortages, extended waiting times for elective care and A&E services close to collapse. As leaders, we owe it to the public not to let these operational problems go on for longer than a paragraph.

We continue to respond to unprecedented demands in extraordinary ways. For example, we have seen health inequalities eradicated overnight by transforming them into disparities. We achieved this by adopting a breakthrough therapy that can improve the appearance of a disfiguring social problem by altering its fundamental semantic structure. I don’t pretend to understand the science, but it’s a game-changer.

I would be remiss if I didn’t refer to the work done by GPs, the tireless dedication of our nurses and the vital contribution of 999 services. Nothing could give a clearer illustration that I am both in touch with the reality of life on the frontline and redoubling my efforts to say something lasting and meaningful about it.

Have I mentioned winter, social care, genetic medicine? They will all be more important than ever in articles like this in the weeks and months to come. This is just the start.

While we have one eye on operational challenges, the other hand will be firmly on the future. I will personally be focused on harnessing digital technology and using it to drive the transformational change our patients and management consultancy colleagues so desperately need.

I like to think that it’s this combination of leadership and rhetoric, so clearly evident in the last 500 words, that will set the tone for this next phase of my career, the phase I sometimes refer to as the glide path to retirement.

Those who know me well would say I am passionately committed to outcomes, but too modest to talk about them in detail. As ever, I leave others to judge my legacy. 

© 2021 Julian Patterson

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