Health Service Focus

13.02.17

Driving quality improvement in healthy workplaces

Source: NHE Jan/Feb 17

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), talks to NHE’s David Stevenson about the work the organisation is doing around quality standards for healthy workplaces.

This year, NICE is due to publish quality standards and measures to improve the health and wellbeing of employees across the NHS. 

The quality standards, which are different from guidance, aim to provide a prioritised set of concise, measureable statements designed to drive quality improvements across a pathway of care. Although not mandatory, the quality standards can be used to plan and deliver services to provide the best possible care. NICE also notes that they “support the government’s vision for a health and care system focused on delivering the best possible health outcomes”. 

The first quality standard due to come out in this area is ‘Healthy workplaces: improving employee mental and physical health and wellbeing’, which aims to contribute to improvements in the wellbeing of employees and reducing sickness absence rates. 

“It aligns, of course, with the work coming out from the National Improvement and Leadership Development Strategic Framework,” said Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE. 

“NICE is a co-signatory to that work and, hopefully, that as a focus will be a mechanism for supporting this work. 

“But we also really need organisations and boards to take this up as well, in particular HR and directors of workforce, to really think about how this cascades through the system of line management so that leaders are displaying the attributes we have highlighted such as regularly consulting with staff, allowing flexible work scheduling, being accessible and praising for a job well done.” 

She added that these important qualities are nothing new and people would, on the whole, not object to them, “but, perhaps, in a busy environment, some of them might get forgotten”.

“But if there is a reminder, especially in times of extreme pressure, to support our staff, it can help improve the situation, because it can be pretty tough otherwise,” said Prof Leng. 

In the draft consultation on the quality standard, NICE proposed a number of statements such as plans for employers to have a named senior manager who is responsible for making employee health and wellbeing a core priority, and line managers’ job descriptions and performance indicators including supporting employee health and wellbeing.

 Prof Leng told us that in her ideal scenario organisations would be actively bought in to improving in this, “and to recognise what we’ve said in the quality standard and guidance and track themselves”. 

“A bit like when you do an audit. So people put mechanisms for measuring performance in place and regularly review to see what is happening or not and making changes to drive improvement at a local level,” she said. 

“Ideally we want trust boards to support this and monitor improvement, but alongside that using the NHS Staff Survey could be very useful.” 

However, Prof Leng admitted that while drawing the evidence together and making recommendations is relatively straightforward, “driving change is not so easy. And in this area it is less straightforward”. 

Discussing the quality standard and National Improvement and Leadership Development Strategic Framework implementation, she said: “I think it is better if boards take it in the round as a whole set of initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of their staff. There will, inevitably, be different components, but as an umbrella it should be a focus on the staff.” 

STP support

One area of change in the media spotlight at the moment is sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) and their potential impact on organisations and staff. 

“I don’t think the STPs will impact particularly with regards to our workforce recommendations because they need to be driven within organisations, and at the moment STPs are not new organisations – they are collaborations/coalitions,” said Prof Leng. 

“However, I hope that they will be supportive of this work. One of the key themes of STP work is on prevention and these recommendations do support a healthy workforce both physically and mentally, and should be one of the strands they look. 

“A healthy, well-run workforce is going to be much better at delivering what needs to be delivered. I really hope that they will support the roll-out of this quality standard in driving improvement.”

For more information

W: www.nice.org.uk

Comments

Derek Mowbray   20/02/2017 at 11:33

My immediate reaction to these initiatives is that they are too soft. In the 2015 Staff Survey a result was that 3% of staff surveyed acknowledged that over a 3 month period they were unable to discharge their job to their satisfaction (I'm writing this from memory). We know from other studies the level of psychopresenteeism is high, and we know the cost is enormous (Twice or more than the combined cost of sickness absence and staff turnover attrbutable to stress). The problem of people not feeling well enough to perform at their peak is, arguably, the most serious problem the NHS has got - all the other massive problems are, arguably, the manifestation of the fact a large cohort of people cannot feel the buzz, thrill and excitement of working in the NHS that produces the innovation, energy, motivation, enthusiasm, persistence, and determination to find solutions to the major challenges, other than think of resources, make mistakes, repeat actions, work their hearts out, be inspected and face media criticism. We know that the application of psychological theories and principles is not something high on the NHS list of interests, but they will be when the current difficulties become really bad. A focus on developing managers to manage people by creating the cultural environment that provokes the workforce to feel consistently well is a vital starting point. That should be shouted from the rooftops and embedded into every training programme the NHS provides.

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Workforce strategy: DH has ‘turned on all the taps’, but can still do more

13/12/2017Workforce strategy: DH has ‘turned on all the taps’, but can still do more

Health Education England (HEE) has released a draft of its 10-year workforce strategy which is looking to create a long-term staffing p... more >
London trust fined after worker is killed by liquid nitrogen

13/12/2017London trust fined after worker is killed by liquid nitrogen

The death of a worker who was asphyxiated by liquid nitrogen in London in 2011 could have been prevented, says the Health and Safety Executive (H... more >
Access to treatments could reduce post-Brexit

13/12/2017Access to treatments could reduce post-Brexit

UK patients are at risk of missing out on new treatments after Brexit if a deal is not struck, experts have warned. Speaking at a Health Com... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

Terry John, co-chair of the BMA & BDA Refugee Doctors and Dentists Liaison Group and chair of the union’s international committee, talks about a brilliant initiative that is proving mut... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Ten lessons to support new care models locally

29/11/2017Ten lessons to support new care models locally

Anna Starling, policy fellow at the Health Foundation, offers the top 10 lessons for local leaders seeking to make systematic improvements across services, all based on first-hand accounts from vanguard officials. Redesigning health and social care services across traditional boundaries is not easy. Making change in complex environments, with differing professional viewpoints and varying organisational priorities while getting on with t... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Strategic investment planning

13/12/2017Strategic investment planning

Paul Turton, head of solutions development at NHS Supply Chain, looks at how trusts can unlock investment in medical equipment to alleviate finan... more >
A fight worth fighting

13/12/2017A fight worth fighting

Professor Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), laments the current lack of public understanding about severe me... more >
Developing a wellness workforce

13/12/2017Developing a wellness workforce

The entire health and care sector needs to come together to prepare for a shift towards health creation, writes Merron Simpson, chief executive o... more >
The future of the nursing workforce: what next?

13/12/2017The future of the nursing workforce: what next?

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), argues that the evidence of the importance of prioriti... more >
Strategic commissioning: what the future holds

13/12/2017Strategic commissioning: what the future holds

Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, looks at how the clinical commissioning landscape will change in the future after havi... more >

interviews

Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >
Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

25/09/2017Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, knows that the health service is already a world leader when it comes to medical advances – ... more >
Improving care at the touch of a screen

08/08/2017Improving care at the touch of a screen

When it comes to dementia, having a calm and safe environment can have a substantial impact on a patient’s quality of life. NHE’s Jos... more >