The introduction of LiA at a Trust is often greeted with weary cynicism by NHS staff who have been involved in various change 'initiatives' which arrive with a bang and leave with a whimper, promising the earth and delivering little.
LiA isn’t an 'initiative', it is about engaging and empowering staff for the long-term to improve the patient experience, patient outcomes and the morale of staff. It isn't a ‘magic pill’ and it doesn’t run itself. It requires absolute commitment, energy and unwavering support from the Chief Executive, clinical leaders, and the wider leadership. Although LiA ‘inverts the pyramid’ and empowers frontline staff, it is the Chief Executive who needs to lead ‘day-in and day-out’, acting as a role model to all leaders, and giving staff ‘permission’ to act.
Ursula Ward, Chief Executive of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust has given LiA her unwavering commitment at the Trust and is convinced that this is the way forward:
"Using the Listening into Action (LiA) methodology absolutely works! Staff are feeling more listened to and empowered to make positive changes which are making a real difference to our patients. Working with Optimise has helped us to re-focus on the most important aspect of providing a service – listening to what people want and how they feel, and focusing on what needs to change.
As a result of the intensive work we have done in Year 1 - to get traction around a new way of working, and to embed this with new starters, newly appointed leaders, and as part of our internally-driven management and leadership development programme - LiA is really starting to spread. We have even seen groups of hospital Consultants use the methodology without prompting or facilitation!
I have no doubt that the evidence is irrefutable in terms of the impact this way of working has on the quality of care and the patient experience, delivered through changes that are prioritised and led by our staff in their own service areas.
During my weekly walkabouts to talk with staff, I am continuously becoming assured that this is the way we need to engage with them moving forward. It is without doubt becoming 'the way we do things around here' at Portsmouth, and is totally aligned with our whole engagement and leadership strategy.
As we move into Year 2, I will continue to personally lead this work alongside our clinical leaders - this is not something to delegate. As well as being led by frontline teams in their service areas, Senior Management teams are using LiA as a way to connect all the right people around their business and activity planning for next financial year, and it will have a strong part to play in our discussions with our stakeholder and commissioners for developing and delivering our 3-5 year plan.
There is no doubt that we intend to raise the bar year-on-year to fundamentally change the culture and shift the emphasis of change to be led by empowered frontline teams. This is here for the long-term.