Clinical leadership skills crucial as health services emerge from Covid GMC Chair

Doctors must be equipped with effective leadership skills if the UK’s health services are to recover effectively from the impact of coronavirus, according to the Chair of the General Medical Council (GMC).

Dame Clare Marx will tell a conference of trainee surgeons today (Saturday, 6 March) that the task of treating the backlog of patients waiting for surgery will require teams to work together ‘like never before’.

And leadership development will be crucial at a time when the impact of the pandemic has disrupted doctors’ training and placed heavy demands on healthcare staff, leaving many in need of respite.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of Surgeons in Training, she will say that, in meeting the challenge, developing the ability to lead a team is just as important as surgical skill.

 

"Teamwork, tolerance and kindness are not optional extras. They are integral to our duty as doctors. In the heat of a difficult surgery, it is these skills that make the difference. They are the glue that holds teams together and allows them to perform at their best."

Dame Clare Marx

Chair of the General Medical Council

Dame Clare, a former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, will say:

'Teamwork, tolerance and kindness are not optional extras. They are integral to our duty as doctors. In the heat of a difficult surgery, it is these skills that make the difference. They are the glue that holds teams together and allows them to perform at their best.'

She will warn that when good leadership is absent, relations between healthcare teams break down, morale suffers, and patients are less likely to be satisfied with their care.

‘That’s why developing your ability to lead is as crucial as your surgical skill or your command of your specialty. We know leadership skills are often undervalued. So, without the opportunity to develop your leaderships skills, you may be ill-prepared for your consultant post and lack the tools you need to prosper in the job.

'There’s now a growing recognition that doctors need these skills to thrive. It’s a major focus for the GMC this year as we look to embed that emphasis across all stages of a doctor’s career. We really believe it can make a difference to your lives and to patient care.'

She will conclude her speech, to be delivered remotely, by warning that the tribalism she encountered when she joined the profession in the 1970s still exists and must be tackled.

‘The pandemic has given us a playbook for behaving differently. We can choose. So let’s take this reset moment and use it – for the good of our colleagues and our patients.’

Read Dame Clare's speech.

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