At the start of this month, I attended the first virtual meeting of the Essex Partners Board (EPB). The meeting focused on ‘leading through a crisis’ and was facilitated by Ashridge Business School. This was a pivotal moment for reflecting on the current situation together, what we are learning, the challenges and how we work together as a partnership going forward. I was delighted to see so many partners from across Essex come together to reflect on the current situation and begin discussions on a way forward together.
The session started with a thought provoking introduction from Bishop Roger Morris, who highlighted the scale of the challenge we have faced and the human cost, but also the need for us to take time and try to connect on a human level as we jump from meeting to meeting and call to call. It was an excellent start to the event, relevant to so many aspects of our working lives at present, and the full text can be found here
People acknowledged there were challenges with home and work life balance and staying resilient during difficult times. The learning we can take from this situation is that with urgency comes opportunity, to innovate, be more supportive of each other and confront the inequalities across our county which Covid-19 has clearly revealed.
Despite the tragic headlines, there are many positives for us to build on. Partners were grateful for the technology we use to stay connected, the extraordinary human kindness of other people and the willingness of front-line staff to help those most vulnerable. Covid-19 has also highlighted the highly effective local system response we have in Essex and that local system leaders at all levels and from different organisations have come together in ways not seen before. It has shown very clearly we can all make a difference, and we can all show leadership, irrespective of our formal role and/or status. Some of the transformation we have been trying to achieve for years, such as virtual GP appointments, has happened in weeks because of the urgency of the crisis. It is important to recognise too what has been achieved over the last two months and the strengths of our partnerships in Essex which should give us confidence for local areas being able to recover after this crisis, in the many different ways and timescales that this path will need to take.
James Rolfe, Chief Operating Officer, ARU