The full quote by Professor Dame Carol Black is: “If you’re leading an organisation, your job is to guide it, care for it, protect it as best you can and try to make sure good things happen to it.” She is Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, and is a special adviser to the Department of Health and Public Health England. She is also Chair of the Board of the Nuffield Trust, the health policy think tank. She is only the second woman to be President of the Royal College of Physicians. I listened to her on Desert Island discs last week and was riveted by what she had to say about health in the workplace. http://goo.gl/1bmXzn
I love her recall of her early life in Barwell, Leicestershire: “Perhaps my earliest achievement was to defy limited family expectations – I was meant to stay living in my hometown and work in a shoe factory or a shop, but I had a stubborn belief that more was possible.” And Dame Carol has done so much more that ‘stay at home’. Even now in her ’70s, she runs 3 miles every day and travels the world. I hope the children in our school seek such challenges as well.
She makes it clear that if we wish to have a healthy workplace, the employer and their line managers need to care, be positive about their colleagues and provide good coverage for both medical and mental health issues that might arise. This chimes very well with the planning work our medical staff and I are on currently. We have full first aid cover and nursing advice on all 3 sites throughout the week, and in our well qualified nurses we have an extraordinary resource of which perhaps we could make even better use.
For example, whilst we have HPV2 vaccinations arranged for our girls in Year 8 for 19 April, as yet our boys are not provided with the same opportunity to acquire immunity to this killer disease. I quote from the NHS website: “All girls aged 12 to 13 are offered HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine protects against cervical cancer.” As we hope all of our pupils are going to be ambitious with their careers, and at least travel some part way around the world, inoculating boys against HPV2 looks a smart idea. As much as half the UK population will be infected during their lifetime, so ensuring the 50% that are male are vaccinated will not just reduce overall infection rates, but also ensure that our males in their futures won’t catch and infect others in communities elsewhere in the world who are less well served than our children. And it not just other that are likely to be protected – plenty of other human cancers look as though they are stimulated by HPV viruses and we are learning all the time about these other forms of cancer.
It’s not just physical health either that schools are concerned by, as many regular readers will know. Dr Susan Wimshurst is our visiting clinical psychologist, charged with providing both advice and support across all sites. Dr Wimshurst visits twice a term, and in addition we have full triage facilities with her practice at Everlief, so we can seek urgent support really quite rapidly. For our country, this is a real live issue; here’s journalist Dominic Hughes on the matter for the BBC – “Mental health care is so poor and underfunded that “lives are being ruined”, a review in England says. The report, by a taskforce set up by NHS England, said too many people were getting no help or inadequate care.” Watch more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35576774
Anyway, back to Dame Carol. “I was very bad at taking risks with my working life – for the first 50 years, I was not very good at that!”
So to us that listen, young or old, that’s a mental note for us all – think a little bigger about what we could do next. Oh, and if we lead a business – try to make good things happen!