Catalyst for change

CEO Karen Middleton says the pandemic revealed the agility and adaptability within the profession – and so she is looking forwards with optimism

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
CSP CEO Karen Middleton

We will soon find out who makes up the membership of our new council, and who will be governing the organisation and setting its strategic direction. 

In a recent column I alluded to the various strategic issues the new council is likely to tackle. I talked about the need to look forward rather than back and I received quite a lot of comments – many positively endorsing what I said and others raising some concerns.

These concerns centred on what has been ‘lost’ to the profession and/or services as a result of the pandemic. There is no doubt that services had to rapidly stop, change and move in order to face the immediate and urgent threats. And I, for one, was exceptionally proud of the way the profession responded in such an agile way. There wasn’t one sector or specialism that didn’t step up to the call for action.

But looking ahead and not ‘going back’ doesn’t mean not opening up or returning to those services again. I am fully aware how many of you are under pressure to continue to focus on the immediate rather than taking a longer-term view of needs; the struggles to get back the space you lost to storing PPE; those who are trying to resurrect your practice after closure; and others struggling with demand due to staff health and wellbeing issues. 

Clearly, as I have also said before, it is critical to evaluate the impact of the changes made in order to determine what should continue and what should not. But I strongly believe that something as significant as this pandemic will have been a catalyst for change that might have taken decades to initiate otherwise. It is vital we take a long hard look at our practice and services to ensure we are providing the very best rather than harking back to what was so familiar.

The result of this exercise should be a return to what was provided before in many cases – and I support any fight against using the pandemic to introduce or continue cost-cutting plans if there is no added value. But, equally, looking forward and building on positive changes should be welcomed, not resisted. 

So much of this is down to leadership – understanding the context of recovery we are now in; setting a clear vision and establishing a strategy to get there; and making sure it is informed by evidence and best practice.

Unlike a few, I am full of optimism about our profession. The agility and adaptability everyone has shown means that looking forward holds no fear for me. The skills and expertise we have accrued over  many years will continue  in response to new evidence and the changing context for our services. 

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