Communication key for hospitals
Hospitals are spending £155,000 to improve the way they talk to staff and listen to their ideas.
Managers at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust believe the cash will improve patient care and make staff feel better about where they work.
In turn it will help managers realise what matters to their staff and how they can help them do their job better.
The money will be used to pay to join a programme, Listening into Action, devised by external consultants which has been used in other hospitals and to pay for two project staff.
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John Adler, newly-appointed chief executive at the trust, said: "Effective staff engagement is crucial to high-quality care and, in the past, organisations have struggled to find a way to improve it."
He said following initial discussions with union representatives, executive and senior managers had all "expressed their commitment" to the scheme, which will initially run for a year.
Mr Adler will chair a sponsor group whose membership comprises senior doctors and nurses, along with union representatives.
The group will have the chance to meet with staff from other hospitals to find out what works well in their organisations.
Sessions will then be held with groups of staff to hear their views on what works and what does not and what they need in order to do their jobs better. Mr Adler said: "We will have a project management process to make sure things are in place to follow through ideas."
He described the cost of the project as "modest" and said: "There is an enormous agenda and the approach to staff engagement has become much more sophisticated."
In September 2009, the Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust spent £90,000 asking staff for ideas to improve life for patients.
The exercise was called the Big Conversation and money was spent on focus groups, workshops and merchandise that included T-shirts and badges.
Non-executive director Jane Wilson said: "Lots of ideas were collected and then it all fizzled out.
"What assurance have we on follow through for this new scheme?"
Kate Bradley, director of human resources at Leicester's hospitals, said she believed the Listening into Action project would be better.
She said: "This will be different as the chief executive is in charge of chairing the sponsor group.
"The group will meet every two weeks to make sure things are happening.
"It is these things which will make the difference.
"We did take some good things from the Big Conversation, such as the trust set of values which we use.
"But while some people felt they had been heard, others thought they had not been listened to."
The Listening into Action programme is scheduled to run for a year.