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A happy and fulfilled workforce is the most robust way to ensure quality care

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‘Staff are proud - they are delighted to tell people they work here’. So says Caroline Becher, director of nursing at Queen Victoria Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - this year’s Top Employer for Nurses.

Pride and a sense of belonging shine through this year’s Healthcare 100 - our annual analysis of what makes a great health service employer (see Healthcare 100 supplement).

In health care, pride in working for an organisation is not just a fuzzy, feel-good indication that staff are happy - a sense of pride is one of the most robust ways to ensure clinical excellence.

Arguably, the highest-performing hospital in the world is Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Their nurses are renowned for their pride in consistently describing themselves as ‘a Hopkins Nurse’.

The Healthcare 100 is full of organisations that are on the path to developing a similar sense of shared pride in employee and organisational performance. However, there are too many organisations outside the 100 where nurses and their colleagues feel little respect for their employer. This lack of engagement with staff significantly undermines performance - endangering safety, degrading patient experience and producing poorer outcomes. Put simply, poor staff engagement increases suffering.

One of the most important lessons of the Healthcare 100 is that good staff engagement is not the sole preserve of any type or size of organisation. The Healthcare 100’s top 10 includes five independent hospitals or healthcare providers, three foundation trusts, a specialist NHS centre and a rehabilitation unit run by a charity. Winners in different categories encompass mental health, primary care and ambulance trusts, as well as GP practices.

The results reveal some key themes. For nursing, the most important is perhaps a commitment to staff development, with adequate financial and educational support. Almost as important is a ‘no surprises’ approach to staff communication, flexible working arrangements and attention to staff well-being.

We hope that Healthcare 100 will prove to be an inspiration to all healthcare organisations. We also hope that, where nurses are dissatisfied with their employers, they will draw on the best practice demonstrated within the 100 to encourage and drive change.

Alastair McLellan editor, Nursing Times

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