Posted by: Witch Doctor | January 24, 2008

Bernard Ribeiro on leadership



Seven is The Witching Number.

The SEVEN C’s of leadership………..

Well, well, My Black Cat, Mr Ribeiro was thinking like one of us, even before we cast The Red Apple Spell!


The Witch Doctor came across some of the things Bernard Ribeiro was doing and saying almost a year ago, and realised that he was the only one that seemed to be grasping “the whole picture” of what was going on – not only relating to MTAS but also other aspects of the NHS plan. He was writing a bit here and saying a bit there, about the hospital referral system, and the pitfalls of a training driven solely by the acquisition of competencies. He seemed to have the ability to cut through the jumble and say honestly what he felt in a non-inflammatory way (although he used the term “Stalinistic” on one occasion representing his view as a consultant regarding patient referrals.) Dr Crippen is addressing Choose and Book, from the GP’s viewpoint, at present.

Recently Mr Ribeiro gave a speech to dentists. The Witch Doctor feels this speech says a lot about Ribeiro, the man, as well as Ribeiro, the president. He also touches on the qualities of a good leader. The Witch Doctor has the impression he, himself, fulfills these qualities.



Read some of what he said to newly graduated Members of the Faculty of Dental Surgery (MFDS) on the occasion of the Faculties 60th Anniversary.

Bernard Ribeiro, President, Royal College of Surgeons of England:

“When I applied for Medical School in 1962 I had no idea whether I was going to be a surgeon, a physician, or a gynaecologist – being a doctor was all that mattered. Interviews were designed to establish whether you had the qualities and vocation to become a doctor. This was not about ‘touchy-feely’ qualities, but whether you had the ability to care for your patients.

Putting patients first before all else should be your aim in life.

Vocation like compassion is now seldom referred to as a reason for going into a healing profession.

Doing an apprenticeship so that you boss could assess all your qualities, good and bad, has given way to competence assessment in an attempt to define what is often indefinable in a professional.”


“What would people have made of Van Gogh or Francis Bacon if they had been subjected to regular workplace assessment? It is easy to embrace new concepts in the interest of accountability and the need to demonstrate that goals and targets have been met, but less easy to establish if a surgeon or dentist is not only competent but capable of performing at a high level during those periods when the unexpected occurs.”


“Sir John Tooke in his review of MMC and MTAS has taught us that competence is not enough – excellence is what we should strive for.”


“Doctors and Dentists acquire a large body of knowledge because they deal with uncertainty – others deal with protocol – we need to be alert to the unexpected which so often requires experience and the knowledge that you have been there before.”


You will be embarking on a practice which will require leadership, the 7 criteria of which are:

and finally Communication which means learning to listen.


The electronic age which you are entering may leave behind the human quality of communication.Beware of the computer with its ever scrolling screen which acts as a barrier between you and your patient. How often have you heard a patient say – “He spent the whole time looking at the screen!”

As we see more computers and screens in our surgeries, remember to position yourself in such a way that you can still maintain eye contact with your patient – be prepared to lay a hand of comfort on a shoulder when reassurance is needed.

Communication is not just a skill, it is what defines us as professionals.

Patients trust doctors and dentists because they place their lives in your hands. That trust used to be unqualified, but now they require evidence that what you will do, will be safe and effective.

In the 1980s President Regan’s famous response to Mikhail Gorbachev as they negotiated the end of the Cold War between America and Russia was :

‘Doveriai no Proveriai’ which translated means ‘Trust but Verify’. To which Gorbachev always replied “you repeat that phrase every time we meet”!

Your patients will increasingly ask you to verify the trust they place in you – be prepared to meet that challenge, and in doing so ensure you are up to date. You may be called upon to go the extra mile for your patients, do not be afraid to do so.


Yes, We are going to hear much more from Bernard Ribeiro.

Aren’t we, My Black Cat?

Much, much more.

redapple.jpg a red apple ……………………

The Witch Doctor – Link to a random page





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