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Effective staff management could save NHS £200m a year

The NHS could save over £200m a year by managing its staff effectively, a report has claimed.

The research, by the University of East Anglia, found that trusts with good people management skills are more likely to have lower levels of absence through sickness.

It also found that those trusts were over twice as likely to have staff report high levels of job satisfaction, over three times more likely to have staff with high levels of engagement, and at least four times more likely to have the most satisfied patients.

The key factors that the research found were linked to high levels of wellbeing and better performance, were training, appraisals, team working, clear roles, allowing staff to take decisions about how to do their job, supportive management and involvement of staff in decisions about their department or trust.

According to the research, trusts with good people management practices had sickness rates of 3.7%, which could save over £200m in sick pay.

Analysing data from trusts across England between 2012 and 2014, the researchers examined whether changes in wellbeing and performance outcomes from 2012 to 2014 were related to people management practices in 2013.

Researcher Dr Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, a lecturer in human resource management, explained: “A key priority in recent healthcare debates concerns the need for respectful and responsive services that meet patients’ expectations, values and preferences.

“Our study provides guidance on important good people management practices for improving healthcare workers' wellbeing and the quality of services that patients receive.”

He added: “Improvements in patients' satisfaction may not necessarily depend on major reforms and restructuring of the healthcare sector, but perhaps the provision of working practices that foster workers’ skills, personal growth and development.

“Healthcare leaders should pay attention to how these practices may be deployed towards promoting the quality of care that makes a difference to patients.”

Researcher Professor Kevin Daniels, professor of organisational behaviour, said: “In the context of the recent announcement on the new Industrial Strategy and the UK’s productivity lag behind other advanced economies, our findings point to the importance of having high quality jobs and other good people management practices for both promoting wellbeing, reducing absence and narrowing this productivity lag.”

Nancy Hey, director of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing, which published the report last week, said that the evidence demonstrates that employment and the quality of work impacts on people’s wellbeing.

She added: “NHS staff have a vital, but difficult job to do, and this paper shows what a difference it makes to staff, patients, and budgets, when wellbeing is a policy priority.

“And even beyond the NHS, we know that a focus on management practice can increase wellbeing and performance at a relatively low cost.”

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