News: the NHS at last has a CEO with true moral courage: focused on patients, not targets
Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961), A Farewell to Arms, 1929
“As medical director I couldn’t do nothing. I was really disturbed about the timing of this. I couldn’t sit back just because the timing was inconvenient, awkward or would look suspicious, as it does.”
These are the words – and the values – of a true leader, one with deeply held values and a conviction that doing the right thing for patients is not a choice – but a moral imperative. We’ve seen it many times before from Sir Bruce when he has spoken out about the scourge that is variance in the NHS, or the disgraceful fact that large parts of the NHS gives substandard care 104 days a year. And of course it was he who “braved the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society” when leading the demand that adult cardiac surgery outcomes and mortality data be made public – a step that remains a shining example of medical leadership in the UK.
At last the NHS has an example of true courage, someone not afraid to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons – protecting patients and improving the NHS for all.
Being a modest man, he would be the last to admit it – nor indeed to want the job – but if by chance there should happen to be a pressing need for a courageous leader to make the NHS truly great again, there is one man who fulfils Hemingway’s criteria. Sir Bruce truly has the “one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change”.