49 Minutes

  |   Thought Leadership

In the springtime, all NHS organisations are acting on a couple of major deadlines.


They have to complete their 2 and 5 year plans for the regulator. The plans, when aggregated will lay bare the financial challenge facing the NHS. We have known about the situation for some time. It’s been called The Perfect Storm, the Nicholson Challenge, and the 30 billion black hole. Today Clause 119 added something new.


Where are you sitting? Those of you with a bit of previous are convinced that the NHS will be bailed out. The election is coming in 2015 and no-one will close a hospital pre-election. The tariff will be upped, and the NHS will be saved. It has always been this way.


Imagine if the NHS doesn’t get bailed out this time.


Try using this metaphor and think about what your organisation needs to do.


Imagine that you’re in a huge stadium. Wembley.  A truly massive stadium. You’re in a seat right at the top, at the back. A man walks onto the pitch and produces a pipette of water. He puts one drop of water on the centre circle and walks off. No one takes much notice. The drop of water is magic though. It’s going to grow exponentially and double every minute. This means that in the first minute, there’s one drop of water, the second, two drops, the third, 4 drops and the fourth 8 drops. You get the picture. The question is: how long do you have before the stadium is completely full and you drown?


Human thinking tends to be linear and therefore wildly over-estimates the time, intuitively concluding that the answer is many hours or possibly days or weeks.


Actually, it’s just 49 minutes.