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Elva Ainsworth

Talent Innovations

Managing Director

Read more about Elva Ainsworth

Blog: Committing to a compassionate culture within the NHS


Compliance to compassion was a phrase that has resonated with me this week, since another damning report was released on the state of the national health service’s approach to eldercare.

A lady on the radio yesterday (Thursday) urged officials to shift thinking across the organisation, and actually change the way that individuals approach their day-to-day work.
Whether she knew it or not, she was talking about shifting culture, which is no easy task when you consider the size of this public sector giant, and of course the regulations and legislation involved.
According to this individual, nurses are far too concerned these days with filling out forms, hitting quotas and moving people along so that they get onto the next problem, and then just carry on fixing and moving. 
So, time to change.
An opportunity for HR teams to step in and shift thinking, behaviours and actions? Yes, absolutely, but first there needs to be some commitment from the top to actually want to make these changes, and the problem is, the NHS goes a long way up. Without the commitment initially, change won’t even start to happen.
Commitment to change
But, if the NHS can find this level of commitment (it certainly knows it has to do something, right?), then the regulations can be shifted and the boundaries moved so that the new culture can grow within the organisation. If it was decided that less red tape and less form-filling was the only way to allow individuals to have the time to find compassion, then the rules and structures need to be in place to let this happen.
And, once again this comes down to commitment – if there is true commitment to changing culture within the NHS, we need to see actual changes in the way people work and carry out day-to-day tasks. And, to an extent, that can be manufactured by the puppet masters at the top.
Then comes the tricky bit, because while the commitment at the top is right, and the structures and rules are allowing room for the necessary shift, who’s to say that the people within the NHS up and down the country care enough to actually act out the changes that those at the top want to see cascade throughout the organisation?
Line managers, management teams, heads of department, and any other management level employee must become champions and ambassadors for the change, and these are the people that also need to buy-in to the new concept of change. Get this level of commitment within the business, and that’s when you’ll see the change that certain corners of the NHS clearly crave.
The lady on the radio was talking about one isolated incident, and had little idea (I suppose) that she was calling for such a substantial shift in thinking across the NHS, but that’s exactly what is needed if things are going to change. Commitment, as with every new HR strategy, has to be the force driving it forward.
Elva Ainsworth is managing director of Talent Innovations. The performance management software and services provider has published a whitepaper report on six ways to gain line manager commitment to HR strategies
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Elva Ainsworth

Managing Director

Read more from Elva Ainsworth

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