potential failings of other individuals or the organisation as a whole. This allows valuable lessons to be learnt, so the same errors can be prevented from being repeated. Most importantly, staff should be confident they are following an objective process where they can be open without suffering undue recrimination for speaking out. (https:// from-a-blame-culture-to-a-just-culture-seven- key-elements-2)

Start from the very beginning with your new recruits: Demonstrating compassion throughout the employee lifecycle, starting with recruitment, is essential to supporting and retaining NHS staff. Research indicates that newly qualified nurses are at the highest risk of leaving the profession, and, stress and burnout have been found to significantly correlate with intention to leave. In a European nursing survey, 42% of UK nurses reported burnout (the highest percentage of the 10 European countries surveyed), compared to the average of 28%. Conversely, nurses who are psychologically engaged and currently involved in their organisation report a lower intention to leave their job.12

Do your new recruits

feel welcome? Do they believe in your vision and culture? Do they have the right knowledge to do their job properly? Do they understand the most common processes? What about training and new technology? Have you ensured they have enough experienced staff they can approach with questions? Investing executive attention in new staff with a clear focus on wellbeing and development opportunities will reap dividends. It boosts confidence, empowers staff to care for patients in their own way and builds long-term staff loyalty. It also costs very little, but the rewards are high.

Crossing your fingers isn’t an option

Why does all this matter? Healthcare is a high-risk industry; navigating this successfully as a care worker is essential to safe, reliable outcomes for patients, staff and leadership teams. Good, open transparent culture is built by the leadership team. As Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, famously said: “No astronaut launches to space with their fingers crossed. That’s not how we deal with risk. A large part of successfully being an astronaut is learning how to manage information.” Today’s healthcare teams are taking similar life and death risks on a daily basis. Do you and your teams start each day with your fingers crossed? Or have you equipped them with the vision, tools, culture and skill to be successful? If not, I believe that all leadership teams have the ability to start that journey today.


References 1 Thorlby R, Tinson A, Kraindler J, The Health Foundation, COVID-19: Five dimensions of impact, April 2020. Accessed at: uk/news-and-comment/blogs/covid-19-five- dimensions-of-impact

2 Thomas R, ‘Urgent’ reviews launched by NHSE as death rates double, HSJ, July 2020. Accessed at: reviews-launched-by-nhse-as-death-rates- double/7027937.article

3 Norton T, NHS finances worsen with £130m overspend, HSJ, November 2019. Accessed at: finances-worsen-with-130m-overspend/7026475. article

4 Clover B, NHS braces for £10bn spend on outsourcing work to private hospitals, HSJ, Aug 2020. Accessed at: https://www.hsj. 10bn-spend-on-outsourcing-work-to-private- hospitals/7028255.article

5 Nicholas P, Nursing expert: this is the full-scale of NHS staffing problem, The Conversation, Jan 2020, Accessed at: nursing-expert-this-is-the-full-scale-of-nhs- staffing-problem-128250

6 RCN Employment Survey, November 2019. Accessed at: development/publications/pub-007927

7 Toffolutti V, Stuckler D. A culture of openness is associated with lower mortality rates among 137 English National Health Service acute Trusts. Patient Safety Network, May 2019. Accessed at: associated-lower-mortality-rates-among-137- english-national-health-service

8 Kline R and Lewis D, The price of fear: Estimating the financial cost of bullying and harassment to the NHS in England, Public Money And Management, Oct 2018. Accessed at: https:// 2018.1535044

9 Office For National Statistics, Avoidable mortality in the UK: 2018, Accessed at: https://www. healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/ avoidablemortalityinenglandandwales/2018 10 Kaplan G, Building a Culture of Transparency in

About the Author

Phil Taylor is the chief digital officer of RLDatix, overseeing product and development strategy for the company. For the past 14 years, he has held a number of positions within the legacy Datix organisation and has a deep knowledge of the patient safety industry. Phil holds a BA from Manchester Metropolitan University and is a Chartered Accountant. RLDatix helps organisations drive safer, more efficient care by providing governance, risk and compliance tools that drive overall improvement and safety. The company’s suite of cloud-based software helps organisations reduce healthcare-acquired infections, report on adverse events, and ensure patient safety learnings are deployed effectively and immediately through dynamic policy and procedure management.


Health Care, Harvard Bus Rev, November 2018. Accessed at: culture-of-transparency-in-health-care

11 NHS Improvement, ‘A just culture guide’. Accessed at: culture-guide/#h2-about-our-guide

12 Cook J, Volume recruitment in the NHS: themes and recommendations, NHS Employers. Accessed at: Employers/Publications/Workforce-Supply/Volume- Recruitment-in-the-NHS.pdf

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