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Wellbeing focus for health managers welcomed

26 January 2012

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A new ‘Code of Conduct’ for healthcare managers to bolster professionalism and a positive work culture has been welcomed by Professor Dame Carol Black, the government’s National Director for Health and Work.

Professor Black said she was “delighted” the Institute of Healthcare Management’s (IHM) updated Code of Conduct, for which members need to demonstrate compliance, now requires managers to pay regard to “the physical and mental health and wellbeing of colleagues”.

In 2008 Professor Black led the government-commissioned Working for a Healthier Tomorrow report, a review of the health of Britain’s working population.

The report said “urgent and comprehensive” reform was required to make UK workplaces have a greater focus on the health of their staff.

At the launch of the IHM’s new management standards in central London yesterday (25 January 2012), Professor Black said: “Staff health and wellbeing engagement are crucial, and they do not happen without truly effective management. I’m delighted the Code of Conduct has included this.”

Professor Black told MiP that she has been in talks with the Care Quality Commission to see if the quality regulator of England’s health service might add staff health and wellbeing to their checklist. She said this was an ongoing area of discussion.

However, Professor Black added that a formal requirement for managers to demonstrate that they were compliant in this area was not necessarily required. “I’m not sure this is an area for more regulation,” she said.

“But I would want to make the business case that investing in health and wellbeing in staff will reduce your costs and your absenteeism,” she said.

Professor Derek Mowbray of the Management Advisory Service, who developed the IHM Code, told MiP that managers have a “fundamantal” responsibility to consider their staff’s wellbeing.

Professor Mowbray said managers can often neglect their workforce in their focus on operational issues. But, he said, considering the workforce is “their main job – to get the best out of individuals, and to ensure that they perform at their best”.

“Staff should be able to reverse-assess their managers. Some really successful organisations do that. And that should be encouraged.”

Professor Mowbray said the application of the Code into practice “really should be cost neutral” if existing management training focused more on issues such as workforce development and adaptive leadership styles.

IHM members are asked to renew their commitment to the principles of the Code of Conduct on an annual basis.

Sue Hodgetts, IHM Chief Executive, told MiP: “The Code of Conduct underpins everything we do. So the revision of that code is one of the most important things I’ve done in my 10 years as Chief Executive.”

“At the moment, practice managers I talk to are in a position where they really want to do the job well but they’re not necessarily supported to do the job they’re given, which is very different from another practice manager.

“The important thing for us is to make sure we’ve got some national standards for practice managers so they can move around, but also that they’re competent, safe and consistent”.

Should practice managers have a duty to pay regard to their staff’s health and wellbeing? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Of course they should. Practice staff are under more stress now than ever before, due to staff cuts. Practice Managers feel helpless when their hands are tied by large group practice organisations who care more about money than staff or patients” – Suzanne Gower, Kent