The South Manchester Way


06 / 12 / 2010

The organisation
What we did and why
How we did it
Results and next steps
Tips for other organisations

SHA region

North West

The organisation

The University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) is a major acute teaching hospital trust providing services for adults and children at Wythenshawe Hospital and Withington Community Hospital. UHSM has approximately 5,500 staff, including those employed by our Private Finance Initiative partner South Manchester Healthcare Limited. We are recognised as a centre of clinical excellence, and we provide district general hospital services and specialist tertiary services to our local community.

What we did and why

During 2009/10, UHSM was experiencing several issues. We had received a disappointing rating from Monitor and we were anticipating the significant financial challenge of making £47 million savings over three years.

In addition, the results of an employee engagement survey showed that staff felt a lack of understanding between management and teams, that they were continually 'firefighting' rather than planning their work, and that the organisation’s systems and policies were not sufficiently robust, which led to some frustration.

As a result of all this, we talked to members of our team about the challenges they face, the solutions they see to these challenges and the behaviours we need to adopt to deliver these solutions. Out of these discussions has come a set of five principles, which we called The South Manchester Way.


How we did it

The resulting principles of The South Manchester Way define how we meet the challenges we face. They are:

To develop the South Manchester Way, we used all the e-communication channels we have to engage with our 5,500 staff, including our daily bulletin and staff news, as well as creating a dedicated site on our intranet. We held direct discussions with over 600 members of staff through a series of roadshows led by an executive director and created small focus groups with key managers and leaders within the group to determine best practice. We produced a bespoke podcast from the chief executive that resulted in 1,700 hits and created a staff survey to trawl for ideas that generated 500 suggestions. 

• Patient care is at our heart. We put patients and carers first in everything we do. We care for our patients in a clean, safe environment. We treat everyone with dignity, compassion and respect.
• We are honest and open. We treat others as we’d expect to be treated. We are polite, open and always willing to help. We say what we mean and we mean what we say. We welcome feedback, learn from our mistakes and build on success.
• We lead, learn and inspire. We provide a positive learning environment that promotes and encourages education. We are enlightened and pioneering. We recognise and celebrate our achievements.
• We strive for excellence. We work together to continuously improve the health and well-being of our patients, staff and community. We listen to the views of others, always treating them with respect. We ensure the most effective use of resources, minimising waste and duplication.
• We are one talented team. We develop our people to be the best. We work in partnership, are adaptable and conscientious. We strive to make UHSM a hospital we can all be proud of.

We also established the South Manchester Way Steering Group, which includes doctors, nurses, clerical support staff, cleaners and porters. The group meets monthly to develop and progress the SMW initiative.


Results and next steps

Changing the culture of any organisation takes time, but having The South Manchester Way defines the approach we take now to all challenges within UHSM. SMW is allowing leaders to be clear about the expectations they can have of their teams, and team members to be clear about the expectations they can have of their leaders. Recruitment, induction and appraisals are all now linked to SMW.

Since the introduction of the SMW in January 2010, we have seen improvements including: 
• a significant restructure of clinical divisions (5 to 3) and the introduction of clinical leadership
• a reduction in management costs of £2m in 2010/11
• CIP on target to deliver 77 per cent higher savings in 2010/11 than in 2009/10
• reduction in sickness absence
• less use of private sector and agency staff
• increases in theatre productivity and day case rates.

Tips for other trusts

• Be inclusive. Make sure people know their role is valued and their opinion counts.
• Communicate widely using all channels and opportunities.
• Never make assumptions on what works. Always seek views, listen to feedback and act on it.
• Review regularly what’s gone before and be prepared to change if change is required.


Susan Osborne
Director of communications and engagement
University Hospital South Manchester




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