A seasoned health care management consultant, Dr Femi Olaleye, has bemoaned the seeming incompetence of the current crop of leaders in the health care industry, citing several unresolved challenges in the sector as a proof.
Olaleye, who was speaking on the topic, “Essentials of Clinical Leadership”, at a workshop organised by Pharmanews Limited in Lagos, recently, critically examined leadership qualities as it affects the Nigerian health care delivery system.
In his words: “The issue of leadership, if it comes to health care in Nigeria is bad, and there is no other way to put it better”.
Acknowledging the possibility of health workers attaining leadership position through professionalism, he said it was imperative for such practitioners to learn and acquire leadership skills in order to be successful.
Citing some failures of the health sector leaders, Olaleye noted that Nigeria, at 54, still has huge deficits of health human resources, professionalism, best practices, job description, job roles and team play under universal leadership and co-ordination of medical doctors.
“Clinical team leadership seems to have taken its flight from Nigeria’s public hospitals, with attendant negative consequences on inter-professional relationship and effective service delivery”, he said.
Olaleye opined that crises in the health sector may never be resolved if the leaders fail to improve their orientation and managerial skills. In order to achieve this, he said, they must learn what clinical leadership is all about and how best to achieve result.
He defined clinical leadership as “a set of tasks to lead improvement in the safety and quality of health care delivery, and the attributes required to successfully carry them out”, adding that while good clinical leadership results in excellent patient experience and outcomes, incompetent leadership leads to low staff morale, higher rates of incidents and poor patients experience.
Olaleye also differentiated between leadership and management, describing leadership as setting direction, influencing others and managing change, while management deals with marshalling and organising resources, as well as maintaining stability and growth of the organisation.
He therefore urged leaders of the health sector to aspire to acquire new tools in solving the multifaceted problems.
In his own contribution, Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Rotimi Coker, harped on the need for health practitioners to effectively manage their stressful environment, as 75 per cent of management staff consider their jobs highly stressful.
The expert, who noted that most health care professionals cannot change their stressors, however pointed out that while stress can add spice to life, it could also be devastating and deadly. He defined stress as “issues that disturb your mental, emotional, social, financial, spiritual or physical status”, describing it as when pressure is higher than coping resources.
The psychiatrist identified sources of stress to include: environmental, social, organisational, life events and daily hassles to mention but a few. He however counselled the participants to note their key stressors and apply suitable techniques such as physical exercise; slow, deep breathing and relaxation among others.