25 / 11 / 2009
What we did and why
How we did it
The results and next steps
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest and busiest trusts in the north of England with an annual budget of over £300 million, over 5000 staff and almost one million patients being seen every year.
The trust provides general hospital services and emergency care to the local community including a full range of medical, surgical, diagnostic, rehabilitation and therapy services. These include several nationally and internationally recognised services such as ophthalmology, hepatobilliary, surgery, gastroenterology and pathology.
The trust recognised from the outset that investing in employee well-being made good business sense, not only in terms of improving performance, raising morale and reducing stress, but also in making the trust a more attractive place to work aiding retention and improving overall performance.
Furthermore the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that bullying accounts for up to 50 per cent of stress related workplace illnesses. This costs UK employers 80 million lost working days and up to £2 billion in lost revenue every year. In addition to the damaging effect it has on those targeted, there is also the risk that employees will take legal action resulting in adverse judgements, heavy costs, damages and extremely negative publicity for employers.
Previous national staff surveys revealed that nine per cent of staff felt they had been discriminated against. The trust decided to develop a confidential peer support service to support staff. The fair play scheme was developed as a confidential advice service for staff. Volunteers were recruited and trained to provide impartial advice.
The aim was to work towards having a higher success rate in resolving concerns via an informal process and improve staff morale by addressing issues quickly and efficiently. In addition it was hoped that the scheme would prevents most issues from going through a formal process thus reducing the cost of an investigation and stress on the parties directly involved including their witnesses.
Positions for fair treatment advisors were advertised within the trust and all staff interested in the position were interviewed. The advisors are beginning to play a crucial role in implementing the new policy by educating staff about the procedures, and providing them with support and advice. As well as providing advice to individuals, advisers were given the remit to meet as a network to identify common concerns. This contributes to the development of positive and preventative action to improve communications and relationships between and amongst staff.
The scheme consists of named, trained volunteers. Employees with a concern can contact an advisor by email or phone. The advisor then decides on the best way to deal with the issue and either responds over the phone, by email or arranges to meet the employee to discuss it.
The advisors are the first point of contact and their role is to confidentially discuss concerns and provide guidance on polices as well as signposting to internal and external support mechanisms.
The scheme provides a way of addressing complaints and concerns in a professional, timely manner with sensitivity. Dealing with concerns in the early stages can also prevent the workplace environment becoming poisoned or formal action being taken.
The scheme was formally launched in March 2009. Although it is still early days, evidence already suggests the scheme:
• Allows parties to work together in a respectful, safe and open environment.
• Assists the parties in arriving at a mutually agreed resolution.
• Promotes communication and cooperation.
• Allows the parties involved to control the decisions that affect their lives.
• Benefits others involved by reducing conflict.
• Is confidential and avoids public disclosure of personal problems.
• Has shown it is crucial to use a variety of communication methods to get your message across effectively including staff leaflets, articles in staff newsletters and internal bulletins, union communications and publications including newsletters, branch meetings and websites.
The trust is considering how to monitor and evaluate the scheme. Monitoring is important to provide basic data on the numbers of users of the service, broken down into various categories (e.g. harassment of lesbians and gay men, sexual and racial harassment). This will help to identify any particular patterns and thus alert the trust to areas on which they need to concentrate additional attention or resources. It will also enable the trust to evaluate what kind of concerns were resolved and those where staff decided not to proceed with formal complaints.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals
Equality and Diversity Manager
Tel: 0151 706 3327