Sunday, 25 October 2009

Temporarily parked on the hard shoulder of life

Last weekend I was unable to bring you my blog due to being ensconced in a cottage in Scotland that had no internet access. It is strange how unthinking we become in our assumption that we will always be able to communicate with whoever, whenever and wherever we happen to be. Knowing that I was going to struggle to communicate once at the cottage, I had meant to send out a blog on Friday morning, but events overtook me and before I knew it the opportunity was gone.

This was unfortunate as I wanted to congratulate all my colleagues working at Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust on their achievement of an Excellence rating on both the quality and financial management criteria in the recently published Care Quality Commission Performance tables. I am not keen on performance tables as a way of driving up organizational performance, but given that only 15% of all Trusts nationally achieved an Excellence rating for quality and 26% for financial management, the achievement of GMW is simply awesome – and well deserved.

Staying in a cottage in Scotland, isolated and disconnected, in itself reduces the inspiration for writing a blog. I can tell you about the otters, tame pheasants, and spectacular sunsets and so on. These were all wonderful distractions. However, within 24 hours of getting there I succumbed to a cold, which has, ‘gone to my chest’ as my Mother would say, and ever since I have suffered with a racking cough, fever, sleepless nights and so on. The consequence has been a lack of energy to get on and do what I would normally be doing! My inability to get going I found difficult. I could not concentrate to read, I didn’t put pen to paper at all, and even gave up shouting at the radio like the grumpy old man I can be when I hear something outrageous.

Finding myself temporarily on the hard shoulder of life has been a difficult place to be.

A balancing factor in this uncharacteristic week for me, was hearing the very sad news of my colleague Professor Deborah Bakers untimely death. Her contribution to improving our understanding of what makes for good health and wellbeing is internationally recognized. On a personal level she provided me with great support and enthusiasm. I shall miss her wise words and capacity for thinking differently. My thoughts are with Deborah’s family at this very difficult time.