Authentic Leadership, the NHS and Me

Eleanor Di Biase is a 2nd year  BHFT Mental Health Nurse Apprentice, Frimley ICS Student Council Member and FNF Alumna. In this blog she talks about Authentic Leadership and the NHS.

“Everyone has an experience of healthcare. Whether that’s directly through personal experience or indirectly through caring for a loved one. As a resident of the UK, I use the NHS and I choose to work for the NHS.

In 2023, the NHS has been under mounting scrutiny. News headlines dine out on articles informing us of increasing waiting times to access care, the impact of striking healthcare workers and of serious failings to patient safety. News outlets are right to publish these articles and it is important for us all to be informed of such issues. However, I would be lying if I said this barrage of negativity about the NHS didn’t affect me. The constant rhetoric from politicians and news outlets often makes my job as a student nurse feel a little thankless at times.

“I am immensely proud of what the NHS stands for and the healthcare it consistently strives to deliver”

Despite this negativity, everyone I have ever worked alongside who is employed by the NHS or works in healthcare, have their own personal reasons for working in this sector. Their “Why” is often linked to their own lived experience of healthcare and sometimes, this experience is not very positive however this makes their reasons for joining equally (if not more) impactful.

For me, I have had mostly positive experiences of being a patient and a service user of the NHS, this also includes working for the NHS and now, studying as a mental health nurse on an apprenticeship. I am immensely proud of what the NHS stands for and the healthcare it consistently strives to deliver; even in the face of conflicting political priorities, growing health inequalities and evolving systemic challenges.

As healthcare workers and colleagues, we are united by our shared experiences of health. It is our individual and unique “Whys” that motivates us to do our jobs day in and day out, these same “Whys” motive us to lead on, improve upon and deliver safe, effective healthcare to those who need it.

Personally, I feel that by reminding ourselves of our “Why”, we can be authentic leaders. Afterall, authentic leadership is routed in cultivating self-awareness, creating meaningful relationships, and taking responsibility for our actions. If the NHS were to nurture and promote more authentic leadership styles, some of the issues it faces would be partially resolved as the working environment would be more positive, cultivate psychological safety and promote trust.

So, over the winter holidays (a notoriously pressurised time of year for us healthcare folk) I’d like us to remind ourselves and to remind one another of our respective “Whys” and to hold them close whilst moving into the new year so we can continue to deliver safe, effective care to our patients.”