The 2018 NHS Wales Staff Survey and the launch of A Healthier Wales has highlighted the importance of the NHS doing whatever is necessary to improve how staff work with each other. Extensive research and engagement have been undertaken with as many key stakeholder groups and individuals as possible, to obtain feedback on the approach and refine resources and policies.
The aim is to encourage individuals to take active responsibility for their working relationships, placing greater emphasis and expectation on early resolution through conversation and supported informal discussion. There is a toolkit available to staff and managers to assist them in taking forward this approach, in having difficult conversations and addressing workplace conflict. Where efforts to restore positive relationships have been unsuccessful, the new Respect and Resolution policy and FAQs are available to access.
It is hoped that this new approach will move us further towards more compassionate, collective, healthier and fairer behaviours, work and workplaces.
Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services for the Welsh Government, said: “I am proud to see that such an important programme of work to move toward more compassionate, collective, healthier and fairer behaviours and create more ‘Healthy Working Relationships’ has been taken forward as we always strive to do so in Wales – through true social partnership working, especially given the unique constraints of working through the pandemic and I am really pleased to be able to support such a significant change in our approach to workplace relationships.
An important step toward any cultural shift is ensuring that policies and procedures provide the right tone and approach to support such a shift and so I am delighted to announce that the new Respect and Resolution policy has been developed, ratified and published and a new All Wales Mediation Network set up in order to support its implementation and the Healthier Working Relationships approach. I believe this really does signal our collective commitment to continue to embed a culture of respect, fairness and understanding in the NHS in Wales. The next stage will be to monitor and evaluate the overall achievement of the project and a further partnership group has been established to oversee this work.
Claire Vaughan, Executive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development at the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and chair of the steering group responsible for developing the new approach, said: “We pride ourselves on being a kind, caring and compassionate Welsh NHS, so it pains us to hear the stories of colleagues who have experienced bullying and harassment at work. The benefits of improving working relationships and creating psychologically safe workplaces are clearly evidenced. When colleagues respect each other and get along in the workplace, productivity increases, people feel happier coming to work and employees are more courteous and kind, benefitting individuals and patients. Our Steering Group has been focussed on developing a policy framework that promotes respect and early resolution of interpersonal conflict, with a supportive toolkit designed to empower individuals to take greater, active responsibility for nurturing their relationships with others and tackling tensions.
We want all our staff and volunteers to feel valued, listened to and supported, so that we can continue to deliver the best possible care to the people of Wales, and this is another step on our journey towards this.”
Richard Munn, Regional Officer, Unite the Union, and member of the steering group added: “The Trade Unions representing staff in the NHS in Wales are fully supportive of the principles that underpin the “Healthy Working Relationship” approach. We have been convinced by the change in direction not only by the academic evidence that we have seen but also our day to day experiences of representing members in every profession in the NHS. We feel that the new approach will facilitate a healthier working environment by providing a renewed focus on seeking an amicable position which we believe will be better for our members, the Welsh NHS and the patients who we serve.”
The members we represent employ 1.5 million staff, care for more than 1 million patients a day and control £150 billion of public expenditure. We promote collaboration and partnership working as the key to improving population health, delivering high-quality care and reducing health inequalities.