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Research: Improve staff communication to improve patient care

9 September 2013

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Better use of information on employees could help health organisations to avoid being at the centre of the next patient care scandal, research has shown. 

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Healthcare People Management Association (HPMA) found that smarter use of information on frontline NHS employees could prevent more scandals over poor care. 

Based on a survey of over 1,000 healthcare workers, Focus on culture change and patient care in the NHS found that the best way to improve patient care is the improve engagement and consultation with staff (55%). 

Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive said: “NHS leaders should ensure they are putting more emphasis on monitoring, analysing and, crucially, acting on people management information and feedback from staff, which can provide early warning indicators for potential culture, capability and capacity problems linked to poor standards of care. 

“Information from patients about their experience is of course crucial but good quality management information can flag problems further upstream before patient care has been fatally undermined.”

However, out of the 44% of employees who say there has been a culture change in their organisation over the last year, just 15% say this has been very effective. 

In fact, 19% said it had no impact at all. 

Kevin Croft, president of the HPMA said the results are “disappointing” but similar to the latest national staff survey. 

He said: “We know there is a clear correlation between a positive staff experience and better health outcomes for patients. Good quality people management information which shines a light on these issues can play a crucial role in helping care providers understand what underpins good patient care and provide earlier insight if things are going wrong.”

Only one in four respondents (44%) and 20% of nurses said they have confidence in their senior managers. 

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at CIPD, said: “Our survey suggests there is a need to reconsider how we embed values in organisations with the behaviour of the executive board and managers at all levels key to creating an environment in which patient care comes first. Unless we have the type of leadership that supports mutual trust and respect in the workplace, people will not have the confidence to hold up their hand and challenge when they see something happening that is wrong.”