Self-Preservation Hinders Patient Care

 

A culture of self-preservation in the NHS is damaging patient welfare and emotional well-being, claims an HR expert with experience in working in the sector.

According to Summit Training Managing Director Scott Watson, junior staff in the NHS are reluctant to question flawed decision-making and to challenge the authority of more senior staff. Scott argues that ‘self-preservation’ is seen as the key reason that more people fail to ‘blow the whistle’ on bad practices. 

What is needed, Watson argues, is a culture of candour, where staff can discuss issues and share good practices without fear for their jobs or loss of standing with their boss.

While targets are an important part of organisational life, they must be partnered with a very clear human focus to be of any genuine value. And this, he states, is where NHS Trusts and Government directives are failing to offer patient-centric care. Welcoming a practice of ‘whistleblowing’ would help expose these bad practices and promote more accountability and transparency with senior leaders and managers who are being trusted, expected and paid, to do the right thing and maintain high standards.

“An example of this occurred recently at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with a report stating that patients and families have suffered from a lack of basic kindness, compassion and care. The focus on providing a high level of patient care has been swept aside, in the rush to deliver targets,” states Watson.

“Technical competence and professional seniority do not automatically provide a medical practitioner with the vital qualities of empathy and emotional resilience. These skills develop with practice and training, which a culture of candour would foster,” he adds.

  

More Whistleblowers Needed

Alongside technical and medicinal training, medical staff employed in a patient facing role should also undertake Emotional Intelligence skills training, states Watson.

“As well as improving and developing high trust relationships with worried patients, Emotional Intelligence skills will promote a culture of candour where staff, however junior, feel safe in speaking their truth to managers and in suggesting better processes and procedures. A very positive form of ‘whistleblowing’”

“Staff will also be better equipped to manage the inevitable stresses they will experience, as well as being better able to obtain more relevant, precise information from patients. This will enable them to reach better decisions on how to treat the individual.” concludes Watson.

Posted by on July 7, 2016

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