Leading the way

What is the secret to good leadership of a mental health team during the pandemic?

And what is it like to suddenly find yourself interim divisional medical director, leading people who trained you, during the most challenging period in modern history?

These were some of the questions Dr Hassan Mahmood - a consultant psychiatrist working in the Learning Disability Division of Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – faced when he spoke to BMJ Leader.

Dr Mahmood, who became a consultant in August 2018, took up the role of interim divisional medical director for the Learning Disability Division in March 2020 as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his region, 2.3% of the 1.1m population have a learning disability and the trust provides support for around 1,800 patients and their careers.

In the interview – which was the ‘10 minutes with’ feature in the well known medical leadership journal – Dr Mahmood discusses the challenges of balancing his patient caseload with the extra responsibilities of leadership; the more intense nature of working and leading during the pandemic, when crucial decisions were needed at short notice; and the need to understand the strengths and personalities of colleagues to get the best performance from the team.

He also discusses the implications of moving consultations online, the advice he would give others stepping up into leadership roles, and behaviours he has seen from colleagues which have inspired him.

RCPsych President Dr Adrian James said : ‘It’s a great achievement to be published in BMJ Leader. I really enjoyed the piece I thought Hassan’s advice was clear and coherent. I liked ‘having faith in your ability to solve problems’ and how Hassan projected this. I would recommend to colleagues that they read the full article.’

You can follow Hassan on Twitter at @HassanmahmoodDr.

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