Whose job is it anyway?


A phrase you will hear pretty much in any workplace including the NHS is ‘that’s not my job’.  This week I heard it said a lot and it began to grate.

Now to be fair most people working in healthcare will try to be as helpful as they can.  There are very few who will be deliberately rude especially towards patients and relatives.  I have though noticed a change in the way we behave to one another. When faced with:

No I don’t know why that abnormal result wasn’t brought to the attention of the doctor.  That’s not my job.’

Or perhaps….

No I don’t know why Mr X was not seen.  Maybe the referral got lost.  I could find out why but that’s not my job.’

….I have been witness to somewhat contradictory behaviours.  There is acceptance of the situation whilst at the same time a growing sense of injustice.  It is this injustice that seems to drive people to behave in exactly the same way they have been treated themselves.

‘well if it’s not your job I’m not going to be anymore helpful when I’m asked in the future’

It all leads to a sense of frustration and unhappiness.  The people who suffer the most are the patients.  If we can’t treat each other with kindness then how do we even start with our patients?

Towards the end of the week I was becoming thoroughly disillusioned and fed up.  On Thursday we had our inaugural STAT (Stroke & TIA Assessment Training) day.  To be honest I could’ve seen it far enough such were my energy levels.


The STAT program was developed by a team in Northumberland to deliver stroke education and training to nursing staff.  It had been supported in Scotland by Chest, Heart and Stroke.  I’ve delivered several STAT for nursing and ambulance staff as well as MedStat sessions for doctors during my time in NHS Ayrshire & Arran. I was very keen to bring it to Forth Valley.  After many months of rescheduled dates we finally decided to bite the bullet and get one done.

Nyree (senior charge nurse) and myself trained 3 of our nursing staff plus our registrar.  The day itself was a mixture of presentations but the main bulk of the training was done using simulation.

To make it more authentic we had a real person, Christine, be our ‘stroke survivor’.

Simulation is great!  It allows a safe environment to try out what has been learned through a series of scripted scenarios.  While there are very defined learning objectives one of the things I encourage people to do is to put themselves in the patients position.  I want to hear people offer reassurance and explain what is happening.

It was therefore fantastic to hear Nicole, our newly qualified nurse, explain to one of the others ‘it’s all about communication. That’s the foundation.  Get that right and the rest will follow’

During the more complex scenarios not once did I hear ‘that’s not my job’.  All I heard was ‘what can I do to help?’.

So while we will be faced with plenty of situations where the natural response will be ‘that’s not my job’ I would encourage people to replace the full stop at the end of the statement with one word.

‘That’s not my job but……..’

It does require effort. It may even require you to do slightly more than is in your job description but I guarantee the effort will be worth it.  You will become less defined by your job and more defined by kindness.


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