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Healthcare Community Life

What is your superpower?

Fab Change Day Event – Leeds – 14/09/16

I have attended lots of conferences, networking events and breakfast seminars over the years, but for some reason today’s event felt different. As I boarded my train to Leeds I found myself thinking about what to expect from today; I had been invited to attend an Activists School in support of the upcoming Fab Change Day. Now the name in itself, “Activists School” led to my imagination running riot, but amongst all else I found myself incredibly excited to learn more about this Fab Change Day that had engaged with so many NHS professionals over the last couple of years since it has been running.

As I enter the hotel meeting room, after a rather frantic mad dash to find the hotel itself, I got myself a nice hot brew and sat at a table with half a dozen other people who were all wearing handmade name tags. As the school began we were all asked one question;


What is your superpower?

I found this quite an odd question to ask but as we went round the room listening to people’s answers I heard such things as: “super-energetic”, “super-organised” and “super-enthusiastic”. It quickly made me realise that out of the 40+ NHS professionals in the room every single one of them had a genuine passion for what they do and utilise their ‘superpower’ to enable them to do a ‘super’ job for the NHS.

Now a little bit of history, Fab Change Day (NHS Change Day as it was previously referred to) started in 2013 and was created by Dr Helen Bevan who is regarded as one of the most influential people in the NHS. When NHS Change day was launched in its first year 25% of the NHS participated and in 2015 over two thirds of the NHS workforce was involved. It has become so popular that it has evolved in 2016 with its very own mobile App launched, as well as opening out to other public sector professionals. The purpose of the event, which starts on Wednesday 14th October 2016, is to encourage people working for the NHS and in wider government to inspire change in their organisations. People pledge to do a specific activity that will improve their workplace. This can be as small as making a coffee for someone new that you don’t know that works in your department each week, or something larger…There is a great deal of support available for participants this year including a weekly ‘hubbie’ call and a WhatsApp group. These are designed to offer a place for people pledging to discuss their ideas, struggles or breakthroughs with other pledges and get advice or encouragement.

What I found fascinating about this day was that when I got to speak with the NHS Professionals who were attending, as they all seemed to agree on a few key things:

1.The NHS does not always encourage ‘rebellion’.

2.Most ‘rebellious’ employees have left the NHS as the culture does not suit them.

3.This is changing and the NHS is becoming more accepting but it is taking a very long time.

It is important to stress that whilst the word ''rebellion'' has negative connotations associated with it, this is not how it is intended in this instance. Think of the rebel alliance in Star Wars, going against the status quo for the betterment of the universe. Now these points may come across as a bit of a shock to you, or maybe they don’t. Just for a second though, think of the complexities associated with trying to impact a change across the whole NHS. To put it in the context of Star Wars, think of the Galactic Empire trying to implement a change across everyone in their employment across the whole galaxy! If you can imagine that then you can start to appreciate the mammoth job ahead of the NHS to implement change across their organisation, as they are the largest employer in this country and rumoured to be the 5 largest in the world. That can’t be easy: employing millions of people in hundreds of different job roles with mounting pressures from government, public perception, funding, etc. I find it hard to make a change in my own life sometimes, let alone an organisation as big and as complex as the NHS.

That is what Fab Change Day is all about…

Inspiring people not to be put off by the size of the organisation or the approval process to get things done; but simply being proactive and doing things that benefit people.

One of the best stories I heard at the event was from an NHS Trust whose Porters wanted to keep patients warm whilst they were waiting for operations so they gave them blankets. They didn’t submit a request and wait for approval; they simply did something that benefited Patients. What these Porters did not realise is that keeping patients warm actually had an impact on those patient’s recovery time and allowed them to heal and leave the hospital sooner freeing up beds. It was a remarkable example of a small gesture having a significant impact and this is what we want to see more of.

So if you are interested in getting involved in Fab Change Day then check out this website, download the App and get pledging:

And remember to ask yourself, what’s your superpower?

Written by Mark Cherry (Operations Manager at The NHS & Healthcare Career Specialists)

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