Last month Gate One supported the annual TEDxNHS event in London’s BFI IMAX. Grace Blundell, Manager, was lucky enough to attend.

I, like most of us, have watched many inspirational and moving stories told via TEDx videos on YouTube. So, in the run-up to attending in person the NHS’ third TEDxNHS event, my expectations were understandably high. Reading the programme on the day, I was surprised and impressed with the diverse topics, points of view and first-hand lived experiences on the agenda for the day. I was excited to see what I could take away and apply both in my professional and personal life.

The official theme of TEDxNHS 2018 was Shaping Our Legacy. What consistently came through in the talks was about how everyone – be they NHS staff or patient (or both) – has the power to influence and continue to grow and shape our NHS. As one speaker put it, “its the closest thing this country has to a state religion”.

Inspirational stories covered a wide breadth of the health agenda. Ones that particularly stuck in my mind were about:

  • local areas in London getting new cases of HIV to zero
  • using sport to support refugees
  • using colour to increase five-fold the number of breast screenings for cancer
  • parents launching 3D printing businesses to address problems with the current healthcare system
  • the undervalued power of empathy and civility.

We are all empowered to shape a legacy for the NHS

What struck me most was not only the passion of the people presenting, but their sense of empowerment to make small changes, even just within their sphere of influence. These small changes make such a big difference.

Some of the key things that resonated with me on the day, and are still in my mind a few weeks later.

The importance of change management for the success of NHS initiatives

Many of the talks raised the challenge of how many NHS initiatives require significant cultural shifts, both internally as well as across patients and the public. Examples were shared about educating the public about HIV being untransmittable when a patient is on effective treatment. Another about the culture change needed across the healthcare.

How we treat people can save lives

I was fascinated by the talk by Chris Turner, who spoke about how experiencing rudeness can reduce our own cognitive ability by 61% and the performance of onlookers by 20%. Perhaps even more importantly, he said that witnessing incivility can result in a 50% reduction in your own willingness to help someone else – creating a ripple of rudeness and poor teamwork. Treating people with civility, empathy and showing some humanity are undervalued qualities – but absolutely essential for the future of the NHS, both by staff and by patients. We are all empowered to create a positive ripple by our own culture and behaviour.

Innovation is the lifeblood of the NHS

Anatole Frances famously said that “if we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.” A key theme during the day was on innovation, not just the larger more ‘exciting’ innovations, but innovating in our every day through small-scale tweaks that have punchy results. It was fascinating to hear from Hannah Burd that the use of colour in a letter to patients increased by five times the number of women who attended breast screenings. In another talk, Andi Orlowski shared his views on using impactful analysis to tweak approaches and avoid falling into the trap of exclusive thinking and instead ensuring we focus our resources to keep the NHS inclusive.

Starting small is well worth the effort

If the purpose of this year’s TEDxNHS event was to motivate its audience to think differently, dream bigger and feel empowered, then it succeeded. I’m proud that Gate One chose to support the event and look forward to seeing the efforts of all who are passionate about the NHS come to fruition.


Grace is a principal in our health team. She has experience working across a broad range of the health systems, with clients including NHS England, STPs, CCGs and NHS trusts.