Reflections on the last decade
Over the last decade, Barchester has grown significantly and now runs more than 200 homes, as well as seven hospitals, and employs 17,000 staff. Despite difficulties that have affected the sector in the last decade and public funding constraints, Barchester has been able to find ways to continue its business growth. Looking back, I think Barchester has demonstrated that it is an organisation focused on quality of care and shows that a company can develop successfully by sticking to its core principles.
My own career has undergone a fascinating transition in the last decade. I was a GP and working in commissioning in a Primary Care Trust as Medical Director and Chair of the Executive Committee ten years ago and I am now working as Chief Executive Officer at Barchester Healthcare, a role I took up in June 2014. This transition from working in commissioning to working in the private sector has been a thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating experience.
Projections for the next decade
The future of the sector looks to be hugely promising. Significant progression will be driven by the integrated commissioning and care agenda, which strives for a closer relationship between health and care services.
Care providers have the opportunity to play a key part in the integrated solution and the changes should enable the independent care sector to actively participate in a much more holistic service to any given community.
Barchester is ideally placed, with its skill set and facilities, to support this agenda while at the same time further developing its own business model and growth. As a company, Barchester is a forward-looking organisation and we are keen to contribute and work on tailored care solutions where we have the expertise to do so.
It’s my firm belief that quality should always come first when running a business and this is at the forefront of my mind as I lead Barchester forward. The quality of service provided and the quality of your team are vital. Get those elements right all the time and your company will generate an excellent reputation, which will help you become the provider of choice, which will in turn lead to commercial success.
My father has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He was a professional engineer who later made the transition into management and became the Managing Director of Ferranti, the electrical engineering and equipment firm. Although it was a different sector to the one I went into, seeing my father successfully make this transition in his career showed me that it could be done – and done well!
When I worked within the NHS management structure I went on a leadership course. It was a particularly memorable learning experience for me as the training sessions occurred a few times a year and were led by world-class leaders who shared some great advice. One word of advice that comes to mind is the importance of listening in meetings. People come to meetings with a purpose so it’s essential that you listen carefully to everything others have to say.
These courses also exercised your lateral thinking and problem-solving abilities through scenario-based challenges. For example, you were asked, if you were planning emergency services what would you do if A&E was shut down and there were no ambulances? It’s always useful to practise thinking in new and innovative ways and this was an enjoyable and challenging way to do that.
I’d advise others to listen to people who are trying to make a contribution. Try to get the best out of the people you are working with and make sure they feel engaged with what you are trying to achieve. When leading a team, it’s essential to have your team’s full support and that you clearly articulate your strategic aims.