Thea Stein in conversation with Robin Staveley

Thea Stein: overcoming the most pressing issues in health with data and curiosity

Robin Staveley, who leads our Health practice, spoke to Thea Stein, CEO of Nuffield Trust, about her leadership journey and the most pressing issues facing public services today, including productivity.

Thea shares some of the best advice she’s received about her career which she still leans on today:

I was given good advice very early on in my career not to consider my career as a ladder, but to think of my career as a climbing frame. And I’ve always remembered that because my career has gone across different areas. It’s gone down as well as up. And so that’s maybe brought me to my unusual position today.

Thea also talks about how she has had to move away from a position of defensiveness when it comes to protecting her people as a leader – and how data and curiosity help her to do that.

Thea and Robin focus much of the conversation on some of the most pressing issues she, and other health leaders, face in the aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK.  From financial pressures, and cultural shifts to political discourse and creating psychological safety for open discourse about the issues.

Productivity of public services

One of the most pressing of those issues is that of productivity in public services. Matthew Tayor, CEO of NHS Confederation, has described ‘the mounting pressure from the government’s productivity demands amid insufficient support and funding’ as ‘dangerous territory for NHS leaders’ and Thea has written a blog [Why our conversations about productivity in the NHS are not very productive] that she and Robin discuss. With much debate in the NHS and DHSC, and more widely across government, Thea’s leadership approach of creating a truly psychologically safe culture and coming together to solve the problem (backed by data and research) is a sound one.

They also touch on what Thea is optimistic about and what she sees is needed as she looks across the NHS leadership landscape now and in the future that would help to move on the debates discussed.

Watch the full interview below:

Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. They aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.

IWD 2024 Thea Stein

Thea Stein was also interviewed as part of our International Women’s Day series. Watch that interview to learn more about how Thea creates opportunities for all as a leader.


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