The NHS Grad Scheme: The Key to Our Success?

Baby Steps for a Better Future?

Who’d want to do it? Becoming an NHS manager where you’re strapped for cash and resources, are pressured to meet government targets and have to deal with ego fueled doctors (I can say that!) and stressed nurses!

Well, the NHS Graduate Management Scheme 2012 just kicked off and that’s precisely the challenge this years’ crop are embracing. With all the talk of innovation, change and ‘shared purpose’ we need to appreciate that often prevailing attitudes can be nigh on impossible to change.

However, investing these values and perspectives in our trainees will pay off many times over. So let’s take a look at some of the key skills our grads will need to develop over the next few months and years.



You know it. I know it. Then for goodness sake let’s learn to say it! Communication is the single key skill you need to develop to become an effective manager.

Communication isn’t just talking. It’s listening. It’s also about body language and recognising when to open your mouth and when to keep it shut. It’s about understanding the language you use with different people. You don’t talk to the orthopaedic registrar the same way you talk to a Patient Representative or the same way you talk to your accounts manager.

Recognise the differences, communicate accordingly and unite everyone to achieve the improvements you aim to bring about.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking [Definition]

‘A heuristic for solving problems; you try to look at the problem from many angles instead of tackling it head-on.’

Basically, you have no money. Not everyone will agree with you. People will expect many different solutions which are often conflicting.

What do you do? Think outside the box. You need to consider the fact that management involves managing personalities as well as figures on paper and you’ll be juggling many expectations. You need to think of cost-effective ways of achieving your goals and you have to be brave enough to plan these and turn them into reality.

Just because someone hasn’t tried your way before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Time Management

Another obvious one. Get a diary. Set up your Linkedin Calendar. Get used to your iPad’s Reminder settings.

Punctuality, organisation and delivery are appreciated by everyone you work with and advance warning if you think something isn’t going to work out on time.

It will do your reputation and career no end of good when you master time management.


Look, many graduate schemes are tremendous opportunities to develop yourself but they are often sheltered environments. I may have spent six years at medical school but I didn’t fully understand the harsh realities of medicine until my last year or so and really only when I started working.

The NHS is a large, stressful, demanding machine the continues to march on day by day.

You’re entering that world. We expect you to work with people like me to deliver change and improve patient outcome and to keep this machine moving! So stay true to your convictions, be willing to adapt and be prepared to embrace the challenge.


Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd



‘Hey! Mr Doctor! Step out of your Comfort Zone!’

It Might not be so Bad

Today’s blog is a selfish blog.

There it is.

I said it.

You see today as much as anything I’m discussing why doctors (like meand nurses must be the ones who define the evolution of healthcare. But there’s a problem. Many doctors and nurses by themselves don’t know the whole picture when it comes to the trials and tribulations of running a hospital, clinic or governmental organisation etc etc Often times those who do are trapped by their own career issues to learn or work in healthcare management.

I recently made a presentation about why my team of doctors were perfectly placed to tackle the issues of hospital management and strategy (find it hereand today I’m going to go through why it’s worth doctors and nurses taking the plunge into management.

1. Reality Check

You can be the reality check. I know you’ve moaned about how your ward, theatre, admin or clinic operates.

I know that for a FACT. So why haven’t you spoken up? Don’t think people will listen to you? Maybe you’re right but that’s because you’re not operating in their world. Take a bit of time to learn about their world, their jargon and their issues and then you can translate your issues into a language they’ll understand.

More importantly, you can turn your issues into ACTION.

2. Rapport

If we all made an effort to understand each other maybe, just maybe we can cause positive change.

It works both ways. If doctors and nurses who are interested in management take the time to learn the subject and managers who want to work in healthcare take the time to experience the wards and emergency rooms then we develop the most important commodity.

INSIGHT. With insight we can figure out which solutions are actually innovative, acceptable and implementable.

3. Remember the Patients?

Patients? Remember them? The reason we do our jobs? Ok, ok enough of that. We all know why we’re here and quite frankly management issues often stop us from doing our jobs properly, efficiently or effectively.

Whether it’s a distracting rota issue, missing paperwork or malfunctioning equipment the bottom line is if it’s stopping us from looking after our patients then we have a duty to do something about it.It’s easy to retreat into our shells and procrastinate with our friends and colleagues but that’s not going to make a difference.

If you have the interest, the will and the solutions to make a difference then you should take the time and make the effort to immerse yourself in that world because ultimately you’re still caring for your patients.

4. Managers want to Work with You!

Contrary to popular belief the majority of managers and executives in healthcare do it because they care.

They value your opinions, your experiences and your solutions. In my experience, I’ve had profoundly positive experiences with every manager I’ve met from junior to senior and we’ve often, with a bit of pushing, managed to develop some plans for action. Often when they’ve heard that I’ve made the effort to learn and understand management they’ve then made the effort to understand my world.

We’re in a time of change and management groups are increasingly recognising the value of real world experience to solve problems.

Not least in healthcare.

So whether you’re a doctor, manager, nurse or executive if you believe in collaborative healthcare then check out my team’s interactive presentation , visit our website here and let me know what you think!


Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd

“Being a Doctor. It’s all Talk. Well, so’s being a Manager!”

‘Talk isn’t Cheap!’

When I was practicing medicine I spent 90% of my time, if not more, talking.

Talking to patients. Talking to nurses. Talking to the lab. Talking to other doctors, other hospitals, admin and even on the odd occasion to managers.

You could not possibly do your job if you’re not talking. It didn’t matter how good your grades were at med school or how many weird sounding diseases and syndromes you knew. If you couldn’t communicate effectively you were done for.

You were useless. The thing is being able to communicate effectively isn’t unique to medicine. Remembering to talk and listen is essential for most jobs especially in a complex system where everyone is rushing around trying to get their priorities in order.

So lets’ take a second to go over some of the different ways that effective communication can help you whether you’re a doctor, nurse, manager or executive.

1. ‘Excuse me. Who are you?’

Know who you’re talking to. It’s absolutely essential to recognise the people involved in any system. Taking the time to get know the people in your department, system or organisation helps you on several levels:

  • Making an effort, is polite and builds rapport
  • We all have agendas and objectives, identifying them allows us to understand and continue building rapport
  • Knowing what everyone does lets you know who can help you
  • Knowing the structure let’s you know what the internal hierarchy is

2. ‘Listen Up!’

As much as I love talking one of the most important skills to learn is the art of listening. Whether you’re starting a new project or you’re trying to assess the state of play you need to learn to listen.

If you show you’re capable of listening then people will talk to you. I cannot emphasise how useful this skill is. For one, it builds rapport and that’s the most valuable currency any consultant, manager or healthcare professional can have.

Beyond that listening allows you to build effective strategies and plans. As skilled as you are, you only have one mind. Listening to everyone will reveal both problems AND solutions you probably have never considered. It will reveal the reasons for internal conflicts and provide you with the hidden answers to problems you previously would not have had access to.

3. ‘Communication is Precision of Thought’

At one time or another we all have suggestions, ideas and plans we want to get across.

We have thoughts. We’re not all born orators but the more we talk and present we learn to translate our ideas into simple, clear and accessible messages. Whether you’re a born number cruncher or you’re a great physician being able to communicate your ideas concisely and to people of all backgrounds will lead to ACTION.

4. ‘Rapport is Everything.’

That’s why we talk. On so many levels as human beings talking builds relationships. We learn about each other, our priorities and our motivations. The bonds we form allow us to work together and become more effective units. If you are a leader you need to be connected with your team otherwise you’ll never execute your plans effectively and your team won’t feel the need to give you honest feedback.

If you’re in a team whether its’ in the backroom or on the front-lines having rapport allows you to get through the most difficult situations but also gives you the confidence to suggest plans and ideas which will improve productivity and efficacy.

And if you’re a management consultant or such like, well, if no-one trusts you or feels like you understand them then don’t expect your plans and solutions to be taken seriously. You become impotent.

Being a leader, innovator, advisor or pioneer can’t be done alone. You will always rely on others and having effective relationships are essential.

Communication is the key to these relationships.

In the immortal words of Bob Hoskins,”It’s good to talk.”


Dr Saif Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd