Improved people management data usage could stamp out NHS scandals

Better use of people management data relating to front line NHS employees could help to rid the service of future poor patient care scandals, new research has suggested.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) 'Focus on culture change and patient care in the NHS’ report found that improved people management data could help the health service by highlighting early warning signs relating to patient care before problems escalate further.

The research aimed to delve into the current relationship between the UK’s healthcare sector and patient care levels, following a report by Robert Francis QC which investigated the poor levels of patient care provided at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. The research also sought to identify ways in which organisations could best work to identify any future problems before they turned into major issues.

The CIPD – the professional body for HR and people development – worked on the research in partnership with the Healthcare People Management Association (HPMA), and found that 43 per cent of the 1,021 healthcare workers surveyed had concerns over a patient care scandal occurring in their organisation.

Many of those surveyed for the report referenced previous incidents, such as the one that occurred in Staffordshire and reported that they felt they had been “bullied” or put under “excessive pressure” to act in ways that were not beneficial to patient care over the last two years. Twenty-seven per cent of surgeons reported this to be the case, along with 33 per cent of nurses, the research confirmed.

CIPD chief executive, Peter Cheese, told the OnRec publication that the research served to highlight why NHS boards should be working to put people management data at the top of their priority lists.

“NHS leaders should ensure they are putting more emphasis on monitoring, analysing and, crucially, acting on people management information and feedback from staff, which can provide early warning indicators for potential culture, capability and capacity problems linked to poor standards of care,” he said.

“Information from patients about their experience is of course crucial but good quality management information can flag problems further upstream before patient care has been fatally undermined,” added Mr Cheese.

Some of the ways in which the data could be better utilised included better collection, reporting and analysis relating to issues such as training, staff appraisals and engagement, and employee stress and absence levels.

Kevin Croft, president of the Healthcare People Management Association, said that the research confirmed a need for “a much greater focus on the staff experience, good people management and staff engagement, at both a system and local level, to improve the patient experience”.