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Honesty Pays

Published: Mon 06 May 2019
I have just watched some interviews with politicians following the local election results. Clearly the British public have delivered a message to the two big parties however the responses from various representatives appear to be one of denial.

I find myself giving out to the television more and more, when politicians simply can not bring themselves to ever admit that they get anything wrong. Perhaps they are afraid of the consequences or being vilified by the media? It reduces my trust and respect with every spin answer.

There are parallels with other industries including healthcare where it can be very difficult, sometimes, to be completely honest when something unexpected happens. Yet when you examine the medical literature it supports absolute honesty and openness in these situations.

How Often do you See Honesty Criticised?

In my 38 years associated with healthcare of which 23 was in the indemnity industry, I have not seen a healthcare professional criticised for being open. On the contrary openness is usually praised. That is not to say that it is easy as there are often competing pressures which make it difficult for people to speak up or be open. The guiding question is “how often do you see honesty criticised?”.

The subject is covered well in an interview between Katy Derham and Claire Bowen on the Risky Business website. Claire talks about the response to the tragic death of her young daughter Bethany.

Martin Bromily’s video is also worth viewing.

The message is clear that honesty is always the best way forward and when delivered empathically is the strongest tool in dealing with these difficult situations. Health systems in Australia, Singapore and the USA have published the outstanding results achieved with an open culture.

It is a hope that someone will eventually encourage the political spin doctors to adopt a similar strategy and I will listen to the tv rather than get angry with it.


Author: John Tiernan