I had an interesting chat with some colleagues working in healthcare yesterday evening. They concurred that events like the TEL Hackathon were a fantastic idea and supported the concept of hacks to innovate and positively disrupt the delivery of healthcare and education within the NHS. But, they exclaimed, back in the “real world” of NHS Trusts, a Hack would never work – the organisational culture is seemingly unsupportive of such disruption and far from embracing the idea of a hack, there would need to be business cases, meeting minutes produced and committees to approve the concept of any venture into disruptive technology. Pizza and Onesies, it seems, simply don’t fit within the corporate governance structure of the NHS.
But can such an informal culture really work within a modern NHS? There are certainly benefits to this less formal approach. While it is true that governance rules and a very rigid hierarchical structure are in place (with good reason – patient safety and patient care must be at the heart of all healthcare provision), there needs to be an element of disruption and challenge of the status-quo in any organisation to drive forward improvements and ultimately enhance the delivery of care to vulnerable people who need the support of the NHS at their time of greatest need.
Events like #TELHack are just one of many ways of delivering change in an organisation and while patient safety clearly comes first, maybe it’s time for the NHS to embrace an element of risk, particularly in healthcare education where trainee doctors, nurses and other health professionals can safely make mistakes and learn to deliver the best possible support for patients of the future? (Although you’ll never catch me wearing a Onesie!)