I have found it impossible to communicate directly with the Director General for NHS Scotland.
The Director General for NHS Scotland does not reply to e-mails sent to him unless you follow this advice from his office:
Please note: The above includes only the first paragraph of the Deputy Director's letter of the 15 October 2015.
It is essential to note that the Director General had repeated opportunities to make it clear to me that this was the process of communication to be followed. Unfortunately this never happened.
My advice to the Scottish Public is to carefully follow the advice as given by the Deputy Director, Colin Brown. Otherwise you may risk being considered “unwell”, as I have been, for contacting the Director General through his, openly available Scottish Government, e-mail address.
Mr Paul Gray, the Director General for NHS Scotland: Year of Listening, 2016: "I've taken time to listen"
Over the last 8 months I felt it would not be constructive to attempt to communicate with the Office of the Director General of NHS Scotland. However, following the EU Referendum the Director General wrote a letter to all NHS Scotland staff in which he stated “I greatly value the contribution of every member of staff in NHS Scotland”. Given that this had not been my experience, I wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org expressing this reality which has led me to consider early retirement and asking: “I would be interested in your thoughts and if you have any words of support for me.”
I received the following reply (reproduced here exactly as it was sent):
Below: an audio recording of a contribution I made to a BBC Radio Scotland discussion on retirement:
My communications in the past to the Director General related to my endeavour to put patients first, specifically in the areas of an ethical approach to the diagnosis of dementia and relating to my petition for a Sunshine Act. The lack of support I received in return is strikingly at odds with the following statement made by the Director General on the Scottish Health Council film below:
“We worry about transfer of power, transfer of responsibility. As far as I am concerned, the more power that patients have, the better. The more power that individuals have, the better. Because they are best placed to decide on what works for them.
To be frank, there is very clear evidence that if people feel powerless their wellbeing is greatly reduced.
If people feel that they have a degree of power, a degree of autonomy that actually helps their wellbeing. So to suggest that it involves something that relates to a loss of power on the part of the service provider, in order for the service user to gain, I think is quite wrong.
I think the service user, the patient, the carer, can have as much power as they are able to exercise without causing any loss or harm to the service provider whatsoever. Indeed I think it is greatly to the benefit of service providers to have powerful voices, powerful patients, and powerful service users, who are able to help us understand what works for them.”
Our Voice: support from senior leaders. Published by the Scottish Health Council
Perhaps the following explains why this admirable rhetoric does not seem to play out in practice:
In Dumfries and Galloway Health: Opinions & ideas, the Director General for NHS Scotland had published in July 2015: “Leadership in a rewarding, complex and demanding world”. The article is worth reading in full but here is one quote:
This was the response of the Deputy Director as shared with the Director General when I shared my experience of the NHS initiative “Everyone matters”:
The above interview was published in the Herald on the 26th September 2016.
In the month before the Director General shared his views with the Herald he had sent the following communication. I acknowledge that I have been persistent but would maintain that this was because of the lack of any substantive responses from his Department. This sort of behind the scenes approach by those in a genuine position of power highlights the very culture that Mr Gray needs to address. I share the conclusions of the Editor of the Herald that “public statements of intent are not enough”.