Effective teamwork offers cure for NHS

first_imgTV soaps seldom flatter the NHS. Whereas fictional US medical dramas portraystaff working heroically in high-tech conditions, their under-resourced Britishcounterparts constantly bicker with mean and moody hospital managers. Andpublic discontent with the health of the NHS shows that hospital fiction isuncomfortably close to reality. The much-publicised Wanless Report suggests the UK health system achievesless than other countries because “we have spent very much less and notspent it well”. It recommends a massive injection of extra tax-fundedpublic investment over the next 20 years. Gordon Brown agrees and April’s Budget statement confirms that higher taxeswould provide the NHS with a downpayment of £40bn to cover the period to2007-8. But his greatest fear is that health providers – rather than patients –will benefit most, with new money going into pay packets or evaporating via theinfamous NHS bureaucracy. The mantra ‘capacity, productivity, performance’ istherefore stamped on the enlarged budget cheque. As far as NHS management is concerned, success will depend on both a helpinghand from government ministers and urgent recognition of the link betweeneffective people management practices and NHS performance. At ministerial level, ‘something for something’ pay rhetoric must be backedby political support for more flexible reward systems. Most observers agreethat nurses and NHS ancillary staff have been treated as poor relations for toolong relative to other groups of workers in our society. However, it is crazyto defend the national pay structures within the NHS that struggle to reflectvaried pressures in local labour markets or evident differences betweenhospitals in the quality of patient care. A high performance 21st century NHScan’t be built on a mid-20th century approach to reward. There also needs to be a focus on high performance team working. AstonBusiness School’s recent study of 61 hospitals points to a strong relationshipbetween people management and development practices and lower patient deathrates. It suggests, for example, that 25 per cent more staff working in teamsin a hospital is associated on average with 275 fewer deaths followingemergency surgery per 100,000 patient admissions. The findings have sparked a rather familiar debate on whether HR directorsshould be guaranteed a place on hospital trust boards. Far more significant isthe observation that hospitals are working communities that perform best whenall the team – managers, doctors, nurses and ancillary staff – operate togetherto a high standard. Only if high performance teams are integral to the process of reform will abigger budget help the NHS out of intensive care. Effective teamwork offers cure for NHSOn 7 May 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img

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