FSRH CEO: Gary Waltham shares reflections on his first two years in the role - Part 1

Posted 18 Jan 2024

Date: 18 Jan 2024

Author: Gary Waltham

In an exclusive two-part Q&A session, we delve into the first two years in office for FSRH CEO, Gary Waltham. Navigating the complex landscape of leadership, Part One of this discussion unveils the strategic decisions, challenges overcome, and lessons learned by Gary as he steered the organisation through a critical phase of transformation and growth.

What key strategies or initiatives have you implemented since stepping into the role?  

Leading the way has been the delivery of a new three-year organisational strategy that launched in September last year. When I joined, the FSRH was in the middle of a five-year strategy, but since it was created in 2019, the internal and external landscape has changed significantly. We had all lived through a global pandemic, and that meant the operating model of the FSRH needed to develop, given there had been a significant fast-forwarding of how we all use digital connectivity. 

“As humans in our daily lives, and in the way we work, our expectations have changed, and we need to adapt.”  

The financial environment has been challenging with high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis, impacting many of our members and indeed the FSRH budget. The previous strategy did not reflect those changes to the world in which we live, but first and foremost, the new strategy we implemented in September 2023 was designed to put the membership at the heart of all we do. The FSRH is its members. Without our community of 14,000 SRH professionals, there is no FSRH. The organisation exists to support its members in delivering high-quality SRH. So, in designing the new strategy, we listened to members, looked at what the data told us about how we are performing, and identified aims and objectives to drive up our value. 

It's a roadmap over the next three years to ensure we are a modern and effective membership organisation that meets the needs of its members. There will be regular checkpoints to review our progress and hear our members' perspectives. 

How has the financial health of the organisation become more sustainable during this time?  

Financial instability has been a challenge for us for several years. Long-term sustainability was a key priority for the incoming CEO and has been a major part of my work over the last two years.  

“To fulfil our purpose to enable quality care, deliver education and training, and advocate for and with our members, we must be sustainable.” 

There has not been a single magic bullet to address this, but rather a series of interventions to maximise the use of our budget and reduce expenditure whilst ensuring we do not diminish our output and value to members. We have grown over the last two years and increased what we do - for example, the FSRH Hatfield Vision, increasing our public persona, delivering aspects of our training centrally, developing our education internationally, and growing our events and CPD output. Through that growth, we have been able to move to a more sustainable financial model. There is more work to do, but the start has been positive. The most exciting and valuable element of this work is it enables us to increase what we do for our members and the communities we serve. Simply, our finances enable us to fulfil our purpose, so stability and then growth means we can incrementally increase our charitable output. 

What efforts have been made to improve communication with members, and in what ways have you addressed the concerns and feedback from them?  

Being responsive to the needs of our members is imperative. To achieve that we need to listen and not be afraid of hearing where things aren't working. We've done this in a number of ways, but to hone in on two specifics:  

Firstly, the Meet the President events we introduced in 2023 have been hugely valuable. I had the pleasure of accompanying the FSRH President Dr Janet Barter to three evening events with our members last year in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh. Each meeting gave us the opportunity to have very discursive sessions with members, to understand local issues being faced in those regions, what we can do to help, and to hear how we are performing. 

“From those sessions have come actions from what we heard, including, and perhaps most crucially, how we can ensure that the FSRH Hatfield Vision can be best delivered in the devolved nations.”  

In 2024, these events will continue with visits to English regions, which we will be advertising very soon.  

Secondly, in the summer of 2023, we radically overhauled our member enquiries service to improve the offering. We had reached a point where we were not being responsive to member needs. We launched a new look function with a self-service element of over 250 FAQs with the ability to easily search based on your enquiry type. If the answer isn't in the question bank, then you can submit your query to the team.  

“The ability to quickly search the FAQs has seen a 40% annual reduction in the enquiries received, meaning that our ability to respond to enquires promptly has greatly improved.”  

I am pleased to say that we are responding to most enquires within 24 hours, compared to 10 days or more before we made the change. Is it perfect? No not yet, and we have taken member feedback as to how we can improve further. However, I am proud of the team for reacting so positively to member feedback and improving such a crucial service. 

Part two of this blog will be available on 1 February 2024.