7 Tips for Implementing culture change within the NHS: Contributions from Occupational Psychology

A shorter post from me today as I focus on a new report I have come across in my research. The British Psychological society has an amazing group of Occupational psychology experts which I felt would bring to light a new perspective on NHS staff well being.

The new report: Implementing culture change within the NHS: Contributions from Occupational Psychology presents a series of chapters by occupational psychologists, each drawing on evidence and expertise from the field to address the question of how this culture change can be implemented within the NHS. These tips are taken as a general overall structure of recommendations from the report.

  1. Implement a values-based recruitment for patient-centred care
  2. Effectively manage staff experience to improve organisational culture
  3. Ensure you have a work design for compassionate care and patient safety
  4. Effectively lead and manage high performing teams 
  5. Foster a continuous learning culture within the NHS
  6. Trust boards and governance: Improve Composition and behavioural styles
  7. Build cultures of transparency and openness  

Ultimately, the report embraces the concept that the psychological safety of NHS staff is critical for patient safety. The report clarifies the development of negative cultures within the system that erodes trust, openness and a just culture.

It suggests that the current NHS system drives organizational behaviour, and the tone of this behaviour is set at a senior level. Negative tones may lead to undue pressures and stresses within the NHS, which may in turn lead to NHS staff behaving counter-productively.

“Leadership predicts staff satisfaction, which in turn predicts patient satisfaction.”

The more staff we can empower to lead change and positive cultures, the better the outcomes will be. These staff want to set a positive cultural tone and promote positive organizational behaviours, but this must happen from the ‘edge’. key areas are still in need of improvement if we are to increase the levels of staff psychological well being.

Picking apart these organizational cultures seems to be filling up my thesis as I see it becoming a large part of why staff are broken and battered. New reports are being released almost on a weekly basis, illuminating new failings and seeing organizational cultures as the cause of poor behaviour.

These cultures are becoming viruses within our NHS, and whilst we are swamped by a fear of blame and failure, the NHS will not recover.

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