One of the things that sometimes strikes me as I walk around the hospitals is the way colleagues address each other according to their band. For most it’s not a conscious decision – more ‘learned’ language – but it’s likely we’ve all heard and experienced comments such as ...
- “The band two does that”
- “Ask the band five”
- “That’s the responsibility of the band seven”
- Or even “ask the student”
I’ve been reflecting on this and how referring to someone as a band may make them feel. Maybe discuss it in your teams and decide for yourselves. I suspect it can make colleagues feel fairly disregarded and dehumanised. We are a team of people who care about the NHS and the patients and come to work to do the best job possible, not a group of abstract bandings!
It could be that you refer to a colleague as a band and not give it much thought. In your mind that person is very much valued and a vital part of the team and they do their job well – the banding is just a fact, a way of clarifying who does what. But is that message conveyed to them? Or do they go home at the end of the day feeling fairly invisible? Maybe they come back the next day and they begin using this language as ‘it’s the way it’s done’ and before long the whole team is routinely describing each other this way.
In complete contrast I hear the way colleagues address patients … and the words of Dr Kate Granger ringing in my ears!
- “Hello, my name is…’
- “Are you happy if I call you Suzanne?
- “Would you prefer to be called Mrs Rankin?”
We go out of our way to put patients at ease and ensure we are addressing them in an appropriate, polite and respectful way. There is a shared sense that this is the right thing to do, so approaching colleagues in the same way could only be positive.
To a degree the way we refer to bandings is historical. We are conditioned to think this way because of the hierarchal structure of the NHS – where roles, responsibilities and pay are clearly defined by Agenda for Change bandings. However, several other hierarchal organisations – such as the armed forces and police – operate similarly and address each other in a more positive way. In this regard the language we use could be deemed a bad habit - an issue likely experienced across the NHS, not just at ASPH. I think we can do it differently and work together to start new habits!
At the heart of my message is that we are all human and the way we speak to each other has a profound effect upon our emotions and behaviours. We work in a highly pressurised, busy environment and at times of stress it is often the kindness of others that helps us through. Addressing someone in the way they wish to be addressed establishes a connection. If we can incorporate the way we approach patients into the way we approach each other, it can only be positive for team dynamics.
I’d be really interested on your thoughts around this – do you feel it’s important to you and is there more we can do together to encourage a shift in culture? Do please get in touch with any comments or ideas.
In the meantime, have a good week ahead.
With best wishes,