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NHS Staff Survey - let's change the game!

Tue 8th January, 2019
NHS Staff Survey - let's change the game!

This month, NHS Trusts will get an initial view - under embargo - of their National Staff Survey results. Some have it already. For the vast majority, there will be little difference from last year, or the year before, or the year before that...

With the results in hand, meetings will be held in management corridors all around the country to pull the headlines: a percentage point here, a slight shift there, anything at all really. Another survey, another set of unsurprising results, some unremarkable headlines in an attempt to make everyone feel a little bit better, and, ultimately, an action plan that makes no difference to staff. Miserable for everyone and something that most Trusts dread rather than look forward to. 

This is not how it has to be.

Listening into Action (LiA) is the leading approach in the UK to improving the quality and safety of patient care through staff-led change. You know, staff - the people who are closest to patients, and the teams who support them. They are the people with the talent, ideas, commitment and will to make changes that matter. They are the people who we must take care of and value every single day because what they do makes all the difference in the world.

Here is a real story...

When LiA was launched, a courageous CEO said "We want to go first. We have been trying for years to improve our National Staff Survey results, but aside from a bit here and a bit there, it hasn't happened. It feels like an intractable problem. It's only one indicator, but we know that how our staff feel matters, so we want to see it shift".

They put 100% commitment into Listening into Action (LiA) as a vehicle to engage and empower staff, starting with pioneering teams in areas like Maternity (to be safer), Stroke Care (to reduce mortality and improve quality of life for patients), and Imaging (move to 24/7 services). They supported these teams to make changes that would become stories to inspire their colleagues and 'fuel' the spread. At the same time, they listened to all staff in all roles in all services, made changes to cut out bureaucracy, simplfy processes, and make working life better for all. They spread the LiA 7 Simple Steps to all teams so they could make the changes they wanted to see in their own areas. The CEO led it with the Medical Director, Chief Nurse, Chief Operating Officer, Finance Director - the whole Executive Team singing to the same hymn sheet.

So what happened? 12 months later the National Staff Survey results were up by 26% points in key questions. Unprecedented. Unheard of. But something else was happening too. Those teams who had pioneered adoption of LiA were measurably improving patient care: waiting times down, mortality rates down, quality indicators up, services changed with staff on board and leading the way. 6 months later, patient surveys followed the upward trend. Operational efficiency indicators shifted too. 

That was 10 years ago. Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust was the first to adopt LiA on a widespread basis. They are still in the 'top right' of the LiA Scatter Map which shows how all NHS Trusts are performing year-on-year through the eys of their staff, based on National Staff Survey results. 'Top right' means they are performing well compared with their peers, and trending positively thorugh the eyes of their staff. 'Top right' is the place to be.

Since then, Listening into Action (LiA) has been innovated and improved every year based on continuous learning from Trusts adopting it. It is truly a 'by the NHS, for the NHS' approach based on what they say works. The 100+ Trusts include: all types and sizes; different starting points, from challenged to outstanding; the best turnaround story in the country; 50%+ with an improved CQC rating at their next inspection; three winners of the HSJ Staff Engagement Award; support from national bodies such as the CQC, NHS Providers, NHS Employers; and - for every Trust that follows the process and gives it 100% commitment - a meaningful shift in their National Staff Survey results. 

Groundhog Day - definition: a situation in which a series of unwelcome or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way (noun)...

Don't do the Groundhog Day thing this year. Be different, be brave, be the change you want to see!   


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