Is patient care in the NHS improving? ABS leading national review

NHS review
Are 2009 government plans to provide higher quality care to patients effective to date?
10 March 2010

Leading researchers at Aston Business School have embarked on an extensive review of the NHS workforce to find out if 2009 government plans to provide higher quality care to patients have been effective so far.

The review follows on from the government’s High Quality Care for All (HQCfA) agenda, which stressed the need for improved support of frontline NHS staff to provide the highest standard of care for patients. A collaboration between the Institute of Health Service Effectiveness (IHSE) at Aston, Leicester and Birmingham Universities and the National Association for Patient Participation, the review will monitor how the NHS is responding to HQCfA and develop detailed action plans to implement its recommendations across the Service.

The project will look at:

  • Management values and practices throughout the NHS and how top-level managers and clinicians are leading on the implementation of high quality care
  • How effectively front-line staff have signed up to this vision.
  • How practices of staff on the front-line are influenced by management teams
  • Where change has happened and where more progress needs to be made
  • Where urgent and practical action needs to be taken to achieve goals.

Research tools such as in-depth interviews, direct observations and surveys will be used. Patients will also be surveyed to find out if they have noticed improvements to services. The findings will be translated into practical action plans and fed back to the NHS management board after the project closes in March 2012.

During the HQCfA review, Aston Business School (ABS) will take the lead on the following:

  • Top management team study – focusing on 71 top-level management teams throughout the NHS, the study will examine top team working and analyse organisational records to monitor changes introduced by leadership
  • Annual staff survey – questions on the HQCfA agenda will be embedded into the survey which is already managed by ABS
  • Effective team and inter-team working –surveys of a thousand teams in primary care, mental health, hospitals and ambulance services in 2010 and 2011.

Aston Business School’s IHSE, led by Professor Mike West and Jeremy Dawson, has a strong track record of working with the NHS. In 2003 it was awarded the contract to develop and administer the first NHS staff survey in England. The team has managed the project since, receiving over 150,000 responses a year and helping to inform policy changes on areas including work-life balance, team working, training, job design, harassment and bullying and infection control. They have also worked on additional projects including effective team working in mental health, staff engagement in the NHS and an evaluation of the Safer Patients Initiative.

Prof Mike West, Dean of Aston Business School and member of the Institute of Health Service Effectiveness (IHSE), said:

“With our strong record of working closely with the NHS, Aston’s IHSE is perfectly equipped for successfully accomplishing this health service review. We will bring academic rigour and considerable experience of working with the NHS to the evaluation. Consequently our findings will be authoritative but, more importantly, our work will be practical, focused on solutions and communicated clearly so  that we can help to make a real difference to the quality of patient care in the NHS.

“Above all, our research will examine whether leaders and staff in the NHS are putting quality of patient care at the heart of everything they do and identify what practical actions need to be taken to secure greater success.”

For more information contact Laura Plotnek, PR Officer, Aston Business School on 0121 204 4540 or l.plotnek@aston.ac.uk.