Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature

“We’re on the same side, really”: medical profession turns to soft power to influence policy

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l707 (Published 18 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l707

Rapid Response:

Re: “We’re on the same side, really”: medical profession turns to soft power to influence policy

Finding value in dropping an adversarial approach confuses the comforts of soft processes with the benefits of hard outcomes. There seems to be no good evidence that our medical leaders are now more effective at influencing our policymakers. When a health service has many problems even the worst policymaker can sometimes manage to make some improvements. If we want to improve our healthcare services we must equip our leaders better to influence our policymakers and get the outcomes we need. The adversarial approach may be seen as aggressive by policymakers and be ineffective. The amicable approach may be seen by followers as appeasing and also be ineffective. We need medical leaders who are assertive, have command of high quality information, understand the policy processes, the competing influences and the context for the policymaker, but who are flexible in their approach, and can build the constructive ‘honest broker’ relationships that result in the best outcomes for the health service. We need more successful influencers more than we need soft influencers.

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 February 2019
Terry Kemple
Retired GP, Past President RCGP, RCGP Representative for Sustainability, Climate Change and Green Issues
Royal College of General Practitioners
Bristol, England