Who is Tom Bell?
“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences – be they positive or negative – make us the person we are, at any given point in our lives. And like a flowing river, those same experiences and those yet to come, continue to influence and reshape the person we are, and the person we become. None of us are the same as we were yesterday, nor will be tomorrow.”
Life's journey has given me a unique set of competencies that are relevant to the public sector. I combine hands-on organisational knowledge and expertise, with professional qualifications, and a systems thinking perspective. I use my extensive lived experience creatively and empathetically to help leaders at all levels reconnect people to their purpose and build wilfully aware cultures in which employees are empowered and equipped to deliver excellent services.
Culture is the key. Evidence shows that safe organisational cultures of trust, that facilitate learning, practice forgiveness, and non-judgemental accountability, and in which people are supported to speak freely, encouraged to share their thinking, and where ethical blindspots are acknowledged, are essential to delivering effective, efficient, high quality, safe services. Reducing harm, saving money, and retaining staff in the process.
Over the years I have developed unrivaled insights into the impact of wilful blindness and ethical fading in public service cultures. I have seen how its presence affects people and performance and how it harms the levels of trust within and around organisations and teams. I understand first-hand the human and financial costs to the system and all its stakeholders. I use the scars I have acquired as a force for positive change and approach what can be a sensitive topic from a place of understanding and compassion. I have felt the forces at work and the pressures present in the public sector; I know that poor systems can negate the best efforts of the most competent, decent, and well-intentioned of people.
In 2021 I presented at the HSJ Annual Patient Safety Congress and became a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management. In May 2020 I self-published a book about the events and abuse that led to the suicide of my sister Alison in 1991. In recent years I have been invited to contribute to various consultations including a 2020 report by Justice.org.uk, entitled "When Things go Wrong", and in 2019 I contributed to an NHS England review (Tom Kark QC) into the effectiveness of standards for NHS Directors. I was forced out of a career in the NHS in 2017 for Whistleblowing in the interests of patients and staff. Though I was devastated at the time, I have learned to view it as a positive indicator of my character, I would do it again.
I have led numerous high-profile local, regional, and nationally significant projects in collaboration with public, private, and third-sector partners, including national technology projects for NHS England and Primary Care. I co-founded the first cross-sectoral rural health forum in England looking exclusively at the challenges of delivering health and care-related services in rural areas. And in a unique partnership with NHS Scotland, I was responsible for bringing telehealth to the NHS in Northern England.
I worked for many years in the area of enterprise development, informing the setting up of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, and sitting on the board of the Northern Leadership Academy. As a former business advisor with extensive experience in all sectors, sitting at the intersection of seemingly disparate but ultimately related elements of knowledge has enabled me to become an informed and knowledgeable advocate of systems thinking.
"As the true method of knowledge is experiment, the true faculty of knowing must
be the faculty which experinces. This faculty I treat of." - William Blake
If you are interested in developing safer, more effective, productive, trusting, caring, responsive, and well-led cultures, in which all staff thrive, and service-user needs are met, then contact me via Tom@Cormetis.co.uk or ring me on 07834-324-555.