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The proceedings of the Health Select Committee’s enquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry makes interesting viewing for anyone concerned with the way in which culture sits at the heart of every organisation. In particular, the opening exchanges highlight the way in which the lack of strong leadership and vision can leave organisations adrift in a sea of confusion.
Opening the enquiry on 5 March the chairman highlighted the committee’s interest in the cultural failings identified in the Francis Report and outlined the intention to ask attendees to explain what they understood by change culture, what does the phrase mean and more importantly how is it going to be brought about.
In response the NHS Chief Executive, Sir David Nicholson, said that everyone involved needs to reflect and work out for themselves what they need to do in terms of changing the way they are and what they need to do going forward. Admitting that in 2005/6 the NHS was neither equipped nor capable of monitoring quality or sharing information Sir David added that the leadership had lost focus on what was important for patients.
When pressed by the Chairman to provide three bullet points which went to the heart of the culture change, Sir David highlighted the need for motivated and supported staff, teams which measured and set goals for themselves and a renewed emphasis on patient focus. Prompted by the chairman, Sir David then agreed that accountability and openness were important.
We would urge all those interested in organisational culture to watch the hearing in full as it provides a fascinating insight into the culture of the NHS and its leaders and the changes required.