How we behave matters

Why is Sign up to Safety different from most top down initiatives?

First we are not a top down initiative but a genuine attempt at behaving differently.  We truly believe in locally owned, self directed safety improvement.  I was reading the insightful (and must read) piece ‘Thoughts of a newcomer’ by Marcus Powell (you can find on the Kings Fund website…. http://www.kingsfund.org.uk ) …..it reminds me that;

You are the people who know your business better than anyone. You know where the problems are and what is needed to put things right. You just need the chance. 

Safety improvement can only happen from within. Not by being told what to do by others.  We trust your judgement to know what the right thing to do is. 

The key lesson that Marcus shares is:

Listen to the people close to the front line. 

This is echoed in my James Reason talk you can find in this blog series. 

Marcus also shares that we must honour the good leaders who hold the problem and give them the chance they deserve. We must start from the perspective they have the resourcefulness to modernise and find a solution.  This is also our ask of members of the campaign:

Create long term plans to tackle the things that matter to you. 


Second we believe that kindness, valuing people and being thoughtful of all around us are vital to creating the right culture for safety and are leadership traits that we both embody and promote. 

The question we get asked most often is ‘how can we turn the NHS and all who work in it into an organisation that cares about them?

We need need to care for each other. We need to care for our patients and their families. But sadly we hear of stories of the complete opposite. 

Do we ‘look after our people?’  I am reminded as the Rio olympics approaches of my time as a Gamesmaker. I was lucky enough to volunteer for both the Olympics and the Paralympics.  In my experience all 70,000 of us were looked after. We felt cared for and we went beyond what was expected of us because of that. 

Reflecting again on the insight from Marcus Powell. It is truly sad that someone who is new to the NHS has picked up so quickly on our bullying culture. Bullying isn’t just a single person being unspeakably mean to another human being; it has the potential to be in all of us…. in our language, our tone, our leadership style, our inspection regimes and the polarised divisions that exist between those that assure, commission and provide.  Everyone whether providing healthcare, monitoring, inspecting, guiding, commissioning, should do so with a positive purpose, providing hope and energy that inspires rather than crushes. 

Marcus also reminds us of something both those that work in the NHS feel and those that receive care experience. 

Who is in charge?

Yesterday the Parliamentary Ombudsman published their second investigation (www.ombudsman.org.uk) into the death of Sam Morrish. It tells us about Sam’s case but it tells us also so much about the way the NHS works. 

Please read, reflect and act on this important investigation.  It applies, as you will read, to every corner of the NHS. 

Who was in charge? 

Who took ownership of Sam’s care and then the subsequent investigation when he so wrongly died. 

Who will take ownership of putting things right?

The striking thing about Scott and Sue Morrish is their ability to be compassionate and to care. They embody all of the traits all of us should have. They do so from a place of grief and loss. They do so when they could so easily blame.  They have chosen not to when they were pushed from one organisation to another, when they were told not to pick a fight with the NHS. Their ‘taking on the system’ has created in their words tremendous levels of stress and anxiety. Yet they can also say how grateful they are for people who continue to work in the NHS. That’s compassionate leadership.  They deserve to be cared for by us. 

The way we can honour them and Sam’s memory is to reflect on the insight from the investigation report which chimes so well with that of Marcus’s first impressions and more importantly turn the PHSO report recommendations into reality. 

Don’t let it be yet another review we simply refer to in presentations. Don’t let it stifle you into inaction. Turn it into hope, energy and inspiration for improving in your organisation.  

 You are the people who know your business well and we are trusting you to take this chance to get it right.