East Surrey Hospital, Redhill's, chief finance officer and deputy chief executive Paul Simpson was the latest health boss there to put himself in the shoes of his staff by going ‘back to the floor.’ Mr Simpson spent a morning shadowing nursing staff, consultants and technicians in the busy Fracture Clinic (Trauma and Orthopaedic Outpatient Department) and plaster room.

His morning was part of a drive mounted by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.

The Trust is currently running a campaign focusing on ‘compassion in leadership.’ The initial campaign will see the executive team working or shadowing in a variety of clinical areas and departments as part of a wider Trust initiative focusing on staff behaviour and cultural change.

After his morning in the Fracture Clinic, Mr Simpson said: “I now understand better some of the issues faced by staff during each working day.”

He said: “With over 60 patients booked into the morning clinic alone - each with very different needs - it is difficult to predict how long each consultation will last.

“This inevitably causes delays for people booked in, and it was good to see staff manage this by communicating well with patients.”

He said: “Their rapport and manner was professional and friendly, and always personal. “One patient said to me how good our communication was –just letting them know why the doctor wasn’t ready and how long they would be helped them not mind a short wait.”

He continued: “Some people, myself included, can be a little shy, or reluctant even, to ask questions when talking with a doctor, and so it was very encouraging to see one particular consultant tease out patients’ worries and concerns. “Often these were small things, but important things.

“Even though I saw first-hand how technology has moved on in terms of diagnosing fractures, providing a good service to patients still comes down to the people providing the care and I was very impressed by the team work and energy of everyone involved.”

By putting themselves in the shoes of their colleagues and viewing a situation from a new perspective, the executive team hope to gain a more in-depth understanding of the role of staff across the Trust and any issues they may face.

Each executive will summarise their learning experience in a short reflective account, which will be published as a blog and also presented at the Trust’s monthly staff meeting.

Next month, medical director Des Holden will be spending time working in the hospital's Medical Records department.

Senior leaders within the Trust will be encouraged to follow suit later this year.