Responding to the independent review on staff engagement and empowerment

Healthcare meeting

14 / 7 / 2014 5.27pm

The Kings Fund has today released the results of a review for the government, led by Professor Chris Ham, Chief Executive. The review looks at the experience of staff engagement in the NHS and concluded that more NHS organisations should be encouraged to become staff-led mutuals.

Responding to the independent review, NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster said:

"This is a helpful review that reinforces two important principles - engaged staff deliver better health outcomes for patients; and more local decision making is needed about the delivery of service models enabled by lighter touch central regulation. Read the full NHS Confederation press release.

Key points from the report

  • “Engagement levels in the NHS are increasing” but highlights concern over levels of variation and argues that existing mutual in healthcare have higher scores than conventional organisations
  • Calls for all NHS organisations to seek to foster staff engagement through a range of measures
  • Calls for new approaches to be piloted to allow employee mutual to develop further in the NHS
  • The report cites the work of Professor Mike West and Jeremy Dawson which demonstrate clear links between staff engagement and better patient care based on analysis of staff survey data
  • It demonstrates a clear link between staff engagement and key dimensions of patient experience.
  • NHS organisations need to renew their efforts to strengthen staff engagement, building on progress in recent years and narrowing the gap between high and low performers 
  • Staff engagement cannot be strengthened by setting targets and managing their implementation but depends on leaders showing their personal and visible commitment to engagement. 
  • NHS boards should set aside time to discuss the results of staff surveys and to act on the results, taking advantage of the more frequent use of surveys. 
  • NHS organisations should devolve more responsibility to staff for delivering services, removing unnecessary layers of management and empowering staff to take decisions. 
  • Staff should be supported to improve care through investment in leadership and management development and training in quality improvement skills.
  • Based on evidence from the experience of existing mutual organisations in healthcare and wider experience of employee owned enterprises it argues that higher levels of staff engagement are possible in these types of organisation
  • It calls for the creation of a variety of opportunities to test out the mutual model more widely in the NHS. These could be as a development of Foundation Trust status, via joint enterprises or other forms. They could also assist in development of integrated service models.

Visit the Kings Fund website and read the full report.

Find out more about staff engagement, use our resources

Our staff engagement pages provide a collection of resources that NHS organisations can use locally, some of these include:

  • 'Meeting the Challenge - Successful employee engagement in the NHS' - NHS Employers commissioned the IPA to produce this report on staff engagement.
  • Case studies – we have been working with a number of NHS organisations (Medway Community Health, Birmingham Childrens Hospital and Wrightington, Wigan & Leigh NHS Foundation Trust to profile particular aspects of their approaches to engagement. Some of the key outcomes include, major improvements in national staff survey results, reductions in sickness absence and staff feeling more valued.  
  • Staff engagement newsletter – sign up to our staff engagement newsletter and receive all the latest information on research, case studies, approaches, briefings. To join the mailing list email your contact details to 
  • Staff engagement toolkit - a ‘one stop shop’ for HR leaders, line managers. The toolkit contains a wide range of information including an introduction to staff engagement, practical working examples, evidence on the benefits that you can achieve from having an engaged workforce and access to a series of tools and resources.
  • Social media - read our briefing to find out how using social media can help increase staff engagement.
  • Webinars – listen to our webinar by Dilys Robinson and Professor Katie Truss who discuss the impact and benefits of staff engagement in the NHS. In addition, a webinar by Dr Jeremy Dawson talks about the findings of some research which links positive staff experience with patient care.  Further webinars and podcasts will be published shortly.
  • Staff friends and family test new briefing - we will shortly be publishing our top tips for the staff friends and family test, keep checking our staff engagement pages as it's due to go live soon.

Links to additional resources can be found on the right hand-side of this page under related links.

If you would like any further information please email Steven Weeks or follow Steven on Twitter @NHSE_Steven 

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