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It’s been a busy and exciting start for health and social care this year, as the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan, backed by a historic Government funding increase of £33.9 billion in cash terms by 2023-24,set the tone for healthcare in 2019 and in the years to follow.

NHS Improvement’s forthcoming patient safety strategy, which you have fed into by contributing to the Just Culture Challenge, will set out how we can help achieve this and will be published later this year. But if we want to engrain this work we will continue to need your feedback.

Here are a few of my reflections on your suggestions since the launch of the platform and the most recent ‘Just Culture’ challenge.

In the NHS, Joshua Flynn suggests staff feedback platforms like Talk Health and Care should be mandatory at a local level – I would be interested to hear from more of you on how this would help to report safety concerns.

Director Gillian Holden says in a social care setting team meetings and supervision are vital for staff to feel part of the team, which helps ensure the best quality of care. I agree with Care Minister Caroline Dinenage’s response – sometimes it’s about doing the simple things (like this) right.

Andrew Ottaway makes a good point about how the NHS can learn from other industries where they are doing things well. I agree. Like I said in my speech to healthcare professionals a few months ago, I am looking at others to see what learning can be applied in the NHS and I’m open to more ideas and suggestions on this.

A Just Culture can be embedded at all levels and I was interested to hear Karen Martin’s suggestion about sharing staff stories with the Trust board to encourage better communication between front line staff and senior leadership. I believe that strong management and leadership are key and I want to see more talented leaders with good ideas in the NHS. We are expanding our graduate management scheme to help achieve this.

Finally, I’ve heard your concerns – which many of you have similar experiences of – about the need to have a fair recruitment process. One that doesn’t lean in favour of bullies staying in their role. The impact of bullying is one of the reasons I’ve made looking after and supporting the health and care workforce one of my top priorities. I’m committed to continuing the good partnership work that representatives from the national and local NHS, social care and trade unions are doing to tackle the issue. The latest advice and guidance on good practice is available from NHS Employers’ website.

Your ideas over the last few weeks and months have given me plenty of food for thought on what more can be done to help ensure you work in an NHS and social care system that is fair and just. This will go a long way in helping ensure our NHS Long Term Plan is successful. I would urge you to continue to share your ideas and examples of good practice, so that together we can make your workplace the best it can be. 

*CONTRIBUTE TO THE LONG TERM WORKFORCE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN HERE*

Every day, in every part of the NHS, you find acts of extraordinary compassion and breath-taking dedication underpinning the clinical expertise which makes our NHS staff amongst the best in the world.

It’s measured in the small gestures – the reassuring words of a porter, or the nurse staying with an anxious patient beyond their shift – as much as the big moments of heroism, and it speaks of the strength of vocation that holds the NHS together.

Quite simply, the people who work for the NHS are the NHS. They care for us magnificently – and it is only right that we care for them too. But this isn’t always the case.

The challenges of working in healthcare are considerable – and, in some cases, have tragic consequences.

I’ve been profoundly affected by the story of Lauren Phillips, a talented young doctor who went missing last year after working in a NHS hospital. Her father Jonathan has described an insidious culture that “succeeded in sapping Lauren’s strength, undermining her self-confidence, attacking her professionalism, and devaluing her commitment”. His verdict on the NHS is as straightforward as it is damning: “it was not there to give her the help and support she needed to stay alive.”

What I take from this tragedy is a deep sense of resolve to change the culture and a determination to build an NHS that truly values its people. We need to challenge the culture of carrying on regardless, not asking for help, not looking for signs of burn out among our colleagues and thinking everything’s okay as long as the person turns up for work each shift.

And yes, that means looking at the big solutions – addressing the inflexibility in rota planning; and recruiting and retaining the NHS workforce in sufficient numbers. These are fundamental parts of our long term plan for the NHS. As a first step, we have set out ground-breaking proposals which I hope will help people like Lauren in the future.

These include comprehensive post-trauma support to help medical teams come to terms with traumatic incidents, a 24/7 confidential mental health advice service, and priority access to mental health referrals. We will also look at ways of improving the working environment, including making more quiet, comfortable places available for overnight staff to rest.

I care deeply about the NHS and I will do everything in my power to pass on this great British institution to future generations in a better condition than I found it.  And that starts by caring for those who care for us, and making sure that whenever somebody needs help, there’s someone they can turn to.

The approach I have set out is just the start of a journey to make the NHS a world class employer. Frankly, it is the least we can do for people who offer so much.

Staff like you are the heart and soul of the NHS – an organisation which is rightly one of this country’s proudest achievements. Over a million people rely on its services every day.

Yet the numbers are rising and our growing ageing population presents an unprecedented challenge to its hardworking and dedicated staff.

This week we have launched the Long Term Plan for our NHS. A comprehensive set of proposals, which will ensure it does not just meet this challenge, but secures the NHS for future generations to come.

Any plan for the future of the NHS must be backed up by more money. That’s why earlier this year the Prime Minister announced the largest funding settlement in the history of public services, increasing the budget by £20.5bn a year by 2023/24. 

The bold and ambitious plan is the product of thousands of conversations with our clinicians, patients and the public right across the country to focus on the priorities that matter to us all.

The Long Term Plan will grow and better support you, our hardworking NHS staff, and invest in new technologies to bring the NHS into the digital age – making it fit for the future. 

Matt Hancock speaks to nurse on ward

 

There will be a new focus on prevention, personal responsibility and promoting good health, and more rapid diagnostics and new treatments will improve your care.

In essence the plan will ensure everyone from the beginning to the end of their life will get the best possible support.

Every baby will get the best start in life as we revolutionise maternity safety and new parents will be supported with better recognition of symptoms and access to mental health services.

It is a tragedy that our children growing up now are more likely to be affected by poor mental health. That’s why our plan will see more support for children in schools, faster waiting times for specialist therapies and improvements in how children are looked after in hospital. 

We must take better personal responsibility to prevent ill health throughout our lives. There will be better and more targeted screening and a clear shift towards promoting good health, not just curing illness. We will improve detection, introduce more targeted screening, and build Rapid Access Diagnostic Centres so you can get a diagnosis quickly. We will fund new treatments and technologies such as genomic testing to personalise treatment.

And we will support people to age well – bringing teams from across primary and secondary care together to make sure older people get the support they need to remain independent in their home for longer, avoiding unnecessary stays in hospital.

You, our hardworking NHS staff, will be able to grow as a workforce, as we support opportunities for thousands more doctors, nurses and other health professionals, particularly in mental health, primary care and community services.

We will create a better working environment for you, our NHS staff, with better training, support and career progression and action taken on bullying and violence to ensure our health service has the staff it needs to care for you and your family.

Our Long Term Plan will ensure the NHS continues to be there, from cradle to grave, free at the point of use, based on clinical need and not ability to pay.

I will always champion this, and the hardworking staff who continue to be dedicated to making this happen.  

A health service and workforce that can look to the future with confidence and hope.

 *** To leave your comments and ideas join the challenge here ***

Matt Hancock meets with frontline NHS staff

As soon as we come into contact with the NHS, most of us can be confident that we will get compassionate, high-quality care from hardworking staff who have trained for years to be some of the best in the country at what they do.

They know how it works and they know what patients want and need. But too often, their many years of vital experience doesn’t inform the way the NHS is run, with too few clinicians making the move into NHS leadership roles.

Some have done it with great success - Professor Jane Cummings at NHS England;Dr Nick Broughton at Southern Health; Professor Marcel Levi at UCLH.

Another is Dr Sonia Swart, Chief Executive of Northampton General, who firmly believes clinicians have a key role to play in always being aware of the need to improve the systems of care in which they work.

But there must be something stopping talented people, who possess the qualities great leaders need, from rising to the top.

A review by the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management has identified a number of barriers for clinicians considering senior leadership roles in the NHS – a lack of a clear career path into leadership roles; a lack of exposure to management and leadership responsibilities; and the perception that being a leader and being a clinician are “incompatible”.

This has to change.

We want clinical staff to use the invaluable experience they’ve gained on the frontline to drive forward progress at departmental, trust and national levels. To instigate this new approach, we will be identifying the best ways to support staff who want to be on a pathway to senior leadership, as well as providing guidance for easy ways for all staff to engage in leadership activities.

We want this mindset to permeate throughout every level of the NHS. From day one of a junior doctors’ career to the retirement of the most senior nurse, they should be encouraged to think about leading from the front, driving a culture of innovation and striving for better processes at every turn.

As a result, undergraduate and postgraduate education will have a new focus on leadership qualities, enabling clinicians of tomorrow to embrace this new mindset today.

This isn’t about creating more management roles – it’s about making sure those on the frontline know decisions from the top are thought-through, well-intentioned and informed by years of practical, front-line experience.

We need the right mix across the NHS leadership community, combining frontline clinical knowledge and experience with leadership skills and vision to benefit the whole team, benefit the NHS, and benefit the nation.

 



You may have spotted a red briefcase being waved around on the news last week, and that can only mean one thing. The Budget.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on what the contents of that briefcase will mean for health and care staff.

Firstly, I’m immensely proud that the NHS was marked out as the number one priority for government spending over the next year, and beyond.

Why? Because this historic £20.5 billion funding increase is vital to the government’s long-term plan to guarantee the future of the health service.

The Budget explained how some of that £20.5billion will be spent – confirming that at least £2billion of the funding with be spent solely on mental health services. This includes setting up new mental health crisis services, including specialist crisis teams for children and young people across the country, along with mental health support teams in schools. It will give staff the resources to continue to deliver life-changing support to patients, and spot the signs of mental illness early for children and young people.

Not only is it welcome news to those of us who have relatives, friends and colleagues who have experienced mental illness – as many of you have raised on this platform – it also shows how important it is to ensure staff and our healthcare systems are equipped to provide the help people need as part of the long-term plan.

Social care funding also got more support with local councils to be given £650 million. Of this, £240 million is for adult social care to make sure more people can leave hospital when they are ready, into a care setting that best meets their needs. The remaining £410 million will enable local areas to improve their social care offer for older people, people with disabilities and children. While there is still more to do on social care, this is a positive first step, coming ahead of the green paper later this year.

There was also funding for specific parts of the health sector.

A Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre in Nottingham will receive £70 million to fund services for non-military patients. This will mean that the public will benefit from the resources of an internationally recognised medical rehabilitation and research facility.

£10 million will also be donated to air ambulance trusts in England. This is excellent news for those of you working as volunteers, or alongside air paramedics, as you know just how essential they are – especially in rural areas.

There’s a lot to digest in this budget. But if you take away one thing away let it be this – through the government’s long-term plan for the NHS, the health and care sector was given more funding than any other public service.

This is all thanks to the tireless work of each and every member of staff. We know how important it is that you have the resources and support you need to do your job, and care for patients day in day out. And I am committed to keeping it that way and guaranteeing the sector’s future.

If you want to know more about the budget check out this helpful summary, and I would like to hear how this new funding might affect your area of work.

 

Matt Hancock speaking at the Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit 2018

This month, not only did we mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, but we welcomed delegates from across the globe to the first ever Global Mental Health Summit.

This was a landmark moment to help change the way mental illness is perceived worldwide. More than 40 countries sent representatives to the Summit, and we made a global declaration that mental and physical health should be treated in the same way.

During the Summit I announced an extra £30m of funding for global mental health research. And we announced the creation of the world’s first ever Minister for Suicide Prevention, a role being taken up by the excellent Mental Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price. She will lead a new national effort on suicide prevention to overcome the issues that prevent people from seeking help.

I’m aware that promoting healthy mental wellbeing starts in the workplace. For example, we know many GPs have experienced mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. So we’re doing something about it. Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, recently announced funding for a new mental health support scheme to prioritise doctors’ mental health. The confidential NHS GP Health Service provides support to GPs with issues relating to a mental health concern, including stress, depression or addiction – you can find out more details at www.gphealth.nhs.uk.

There’s plenty of advice available on this subject, but if you and your team are facing any issues, mental health charity Mind recently shared some helpful tips on our #TalkHealthandCare blog on how staff can look after their wellbeing.

We’re committed to turning the tide and changing the way mental health is perceived and treated. I’d love to hear your views on what more we can do to support you where you work.              

I’ve had a very busy few days in Birmingham, but I’ve still been reading your ideas – we’ve had another great crop this week.

Laura raised a really important issue on recognising the skill and professionalism of care workers on the front line. She is right that it is a job many of us would struggle to do. I know that my colleague, Care Minister Caroline Dinenage, is working hard to make sure that the social care workforce feel valued and have the resources and recognition they need.

I really do want to hear more from the social care sector, so if you agree with Laura, or have ideas as to how we can do better as a government to recognise the essential role they play, then please let me know here.

The issue of rostering has come up again this week – this time the administrative burden is highlighted by PDuncan. He makes an interesting suggestion that skilled admin staff could complete a lot of the heavy lifting of rostering more efficiently. I’m sure wards across the country approach this in different ways: if you’ve experienced alternative approaches then do post in the comments.

Efficiency was a common theme this week. Sarah spoke about the need for a probation period in some NHS jobs, and where perhaps the health and social care system could benefit from a more business-savvy approach. This is the case in Joanne’s comments about use of the internet in the workplace.

Sometimes what makes the NHS and care sector great places to work is that they aren’t like any other workplaces. But I think both of these points reflect that sometimes there needs to be clear professional expectations and behaviours.

All of these ideas reflect the importance of culture and attitudes at the very top. I’ll be sure to reflect this when I meet chief execs in the coming weeks.

Finally, you may have seen that this week I spoke publicly about my dyslexia for the first time. This was a difficult subject for me to tackle, but I am not shy about speaking up where I think it might bring positive change. I hope you won’t be shy about your ideas here either.

Over 100 ideas

Posted by Matt Hancock 7 months ago

We’ve now had over 100 ideas on the #TalkHealthandCare platform and I’ve been reading them with interest.

Many have focused on culture within health and care organisations.

Rosemary wrote about the importance of shared values that have been developed by staff at all levels within an organisation. I completely agree with this and believe that strong leadership is crucial to developing a strong set of core values within an organisation.

Another issue, raised by Jamie, is the regulation of physician associates. Jamie suggests that statutory regulation of physician associates would mean more rigorous testing and would be better able to support doctors in future.

I know this view is shared by many, which is why the Government went out to public consultation in October 2017 to seek views on the possible statutory regulation of physician associates. We’ll be publishing our response to the consultation soon.

Richard’s comments about the need for social care employers to provide better support and development opportunities for staff knowledge and skills in providing high quality care, and making them feel valued and engaged really resonated with me.

That’s why we want more views on challenge three: having access to training, development and support.

My department is considering ideas for improving training for care workers, registered managers and other staff working across the adult social care sector. If you feel similarly to Richard, or have ideas about how social care employers can provide better support then tell us here.

Last Tuesday I did the overnight shift in Plymouth Hospital A&E where I saw first-hand some of the challenges that many of you face every day.

The compassionate and good-humoured nurses, doctors and paramedics I met all told me the same thing: they focus relentlessly on patient safety.

They said they need safe systems around them. Opportunities to learn from mistakes are crucial, as is a culture where staff are empowered to speak out when things go wrong. I am committed to making sure staff can do this.

Thanks so much for contributing all your ideas and comments. Let’s aim for another 100! 

Keep your ideas coming

Posted by Matt Hancock 8 months ago

 

Last week we launched #TalkHealthAndCare in Bristol and one week in, I’m so pleased that thousands of you have already visited the site and given specific ideas about how we can support you at work.

I’m really grateful to all of you who have taken the time to tell us what you think, and I have already read with interest many of your suggestions, including how we better learn from serious incidents, to ideas about empowering staff to bring their compassion to the fore when dealing with patients.

Kieran’s post, ONE healthcare record system to rule them all…, was the first idea I commented on and there are many more that I have read and hope to respond to soon. I completely agree that IT systems need to talk to each other and in the future we will publish robust standards that IT systems must meet if they’re going to be bought by the NHS.

We’ve also been asked, when we have a gap in a rota, why not offer more money to NHS staff instead of relying on external agency staff? And I completely agree – we’re encouraging trusts in the NHS to move more and more work over to staff banks instead. This is the in-house solution to temporary staffing, where NHS staff are paid to fill gaps in rotas, saving money on agencies, and ensuring better continuity of care. For the staff members, working through a bank can provide much needed flexibility and we’re working with several trusts to pilot new ways to make these banks work even better for you, and for patients.

Another area that has come up is working without fear of bullying, discrimination or violence. It’s one of the toughest areas to talk about but I have been impressed with those who have shared their experiences of how it has been handled in the workplace. We have a lot to do but are already making progress, with the introduction last week of new laws to better protect NHS staff by increasing maximum prison sentences for those who assault our hardworking emergency services colleagues.

There is so much to do, please keep contributing.

 

 

Matt Hancock

United Kingdom

Joined this community on Sep 10, 2018

Bio Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. MP for West Suffolk.

First Name
Matt

Last Name
Hancock

What type of organisation do you work for?
Government department or other

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Yes

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