In November 2013 following the Francis Report into failings at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust, the government promised to make significant investment into a new generation of leaders for the NHS. Reinvigorating leadership at the frontline was seen as critical to delivering safe and high-quality care – If frontline staff could be inspired to be the best that they could be, working practices would improve and challenges at a local level could be tackled.
The NHS Leadership Academy took on the task and approached Hay Group for help. It wanted to develop a leadership programme for frontline nurses and midwives, but it would not be like other NHS development programs. It wasn’t about career development or promotion it was about supporting nurses and midwives to be great in their day (and night) job. It should help frontline staff feel confident, capable, supported and empowered to make changes that would have an immediate impact for patients. The programme would, very deliberately, deliver ripples rather than waves of change.
One of the biggest challenges would be time; the hustle and bustle of the operational NHS inevitably leaves nurses and midwives with limited time to spare in the day. Hay Group suggested building a programme around the ‘flipped classroom’ idea pioneered by Salman Khan. Rather than using face-to-face workshop time to lecture people or introduce a new idea, participants discussed topic that they have already studied online, at a time that suits them. This approach also has the potential to reinvigorate a sense of team work and remind participants of what they could achieve by working well together.
Hay Group developed series of online materials which included more than 50 short animated and live action films. This gave participates the chance to absorb the material when they wanted and at their pace, and refer back whenever they needed to.
As of September 2015 more the 5,250 nurses and midwives have been through the programme. A convincing sign of its success is the enthusiasm of those taking part and their eagerness to recommend it to their colleagues; after a few months, nurses and midwives were queuing up to refer themselves.
Participants overwhelmingly say the programme has changed the way they approach problems and interact with their colleagues. It has given nurses and midwives renewed resilience and helped the reconnect with why they joined the profession; 85% said their confidence has improved and 83% believe they can now make even more of a difference to patient care. The programme has also strengthened the pipeline of NHS talent, with 85% staying they give more though to career progression (and over half have subsequently moved roles).
Karen Lynas deputy managing director of the NHS leadership Academy said the programme ‘has exceeded our expectations in being able to energise, excite and engage a crucial staff group whilst supporting their development and focusing on improving patient care. Hay Group has created an exceptional learning experience for a really important group of people’.