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Episode 11- Victor Adebowale

Season 1, Ep. 11

An interview with Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive Turning Point


'My experiences of life have lead me to believe that in most public services the inverse care law applies, it shouldn’t. It’s an inefficient use of limited resourse’ - Victor Adebowale


Show Notes

Lord Victor Adebowale is a busy man so I was so pleased he managed to squeeze in a chat with me for the podcast. He talks with honesty and humour. Every time I have met him our conversations give me so much to think about.


Victor shares his experiences as Chief Executive of Turning Point. He tells me how he and his team make it their mission to try to tackle the inverse care law (2mins). He talks about the importance of a clear vision for his team and what a privilege it is to try and improve the complex lives of others (7mins). Turning Point’s role in the system is complex but made even more so by the need to run an effective business amid all the complexities of the system (9mins 10s).


Victor thinks about how we can best design services to fit the system and the population. He explains the importance of having positive rather than negative value transfer (10mins) and how Turning Point put clients at the centre of service redesign. He gives an example of how they have done this at Turning Point by integrating alcohol and drug services.


We discuss competition and his experience of collaborating with local services and the community (14m30s) and when this does or doesn’t work. We bring in the concepts of place based approaches and population health explaining how his team works hard to understand the needs of and build trust within a particular community to try to deliver this. He says the concept is easy but the application is rather more difficult. He explains that for him this means ‘leadership beyond boundaries’ and ‘system leadership’ (from 20m30).


In his chief exec role he explains the importance of working out what the right question is (21m 10s) and says that is often questioning whether a process matches the intention (23mins). For Victor one of his main intentions is tackling the health inequity and the inverse care law (24mins). He says ‘What else are you going to talk about if you are involved in health care?’ For him he says this is a logical approach (25m 50s) for him and feels this would be the same for any sensible human being wanting an impact in the system. He talks about how we cope when other people in the system don’t share the same priorities and how we can build some accountability to ensure health inequity moves up the priority list(28mins 40s) . We discuss measuring success and impact in a system (29mins) and how trying to reverse the inverse care law should be taken into account when thinking about any measure we use for the system.


As always we finish talking books and dreams. Victor gives us his recommended reading (34mins 40) and his one wish to tackle health inequalities (35mins 20s).


What I really liked about this conversation is that everything we talked about came back to trying to reverse the inverse care law. We hope you enjoy the episode


Intro about Victor (1m45s)

Victor’s recommended reading

Anything by Professor Michael Marmot e.g. The Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy Lives

Invisible cities by Italo Calvino

He recommends us to read books that aren't about what we know about already but new things people that we haven’t come across before.

Genie question (48m10s)


‘In a nutshell, there are only three challenges that face the NHS: Equity, Access and technology, in that order.’

(11mins 30s)

Victor Adbeowale

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