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Trusts must resist the temptation of a 'quick fix'

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It is nearly a year on from the Francis report and the launch of our Speak Out Safely campaign to ensure staff will be supported when they raise concerns about care. It was disappointing, therefore, to read the recent CQC inspection of Barts Health Trust.

The inspectors found that “that staff morale was low. Too many members of staff of all levels and across all sites came to us to express their concerns about being bullied, and many only agreed to speak to us in confidence”.

One of the most telling findings was the disconnect between board and ward. While the leadership team was described as well-established and cohesive, the CQC found that it needed to be far more visible across all parts of the trust.

I suspect the temptation for any trust faced with a report like this is to look for quick fix that can be rolled out quickly, but as we all know, this usually results in nothing more than cosmetic change with no lasting impact.

Last week I went to the launch of a report Staff Care. How to engage staff in the NHS and why it matters by the Point of Care Foundation, which aims to improve patients’ experience of care and increase support of staff who work with them.

The report is a great read. At only 16 pages – and free of jargon – it has a clear message that caring for people who work in healthcare is the key to developing a caring and compassionate health service.

It is a rare report that really gets to the point of what staff engagement means. It acknowledges that engagement should not rely solely on annual staff surveys and meetings and is more than measures of job satisfaction and commitment.  

The authors of the report suggest that:

  • Staff should have well-structured appraisals, ongoing training and career development;
  • Line managers should have people management skills;
  • Teams should be well defined and regularly review how they are doing;
  • Staff should have space to reflect on patient care challenges;
  • There should be coherent goals for quality and safety from board to ward;
  • Staff feedback should be acted on and staff empowered to make improvements;
  • Values should be articulated and how these translate into behaviour be made clear.

I’d urge you to have a look at this report. It has some important messages for managers at all levels of the NHS and it is crucial that the momentum created by the Francis report is maintained in 2014.

One year on from the Francis report I wonder what difference it has made to nurses working with patients and what its legacy will be. We are still at a turn point but for real and lasting change to happen organisations have understand that while patients matter most, staff matter too.

As Jocelyn Cornwell, director of the Point of Care Foundation says “We’d like the NHS to be notable for being not just the largest employer in the country but also the best”.

We are inviting all NHS organisations, other healthcare providers and universities offering nursing programmes to publicly commit to supporting staff who raise genuine concerns about care by signing up to Speak Out Safely, and over 60 have already done so. If your trust hasn’t already signed up, you can download a letter to your chief executive asking that it does so.

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  • All well and good, but there is a lot of uncritical acceptance of that report and no questioning why some of these difficulties have arisen.

    Some of us like to ask questions:

    mentalhealthuncovered.blogspot.co.uk

    Post on staff engagement...

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