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Event Summary:

Valuing your Talent: human capital in the NHS

Resource summary

A CIPD Human Capital Metrics (HCM) roundtable event was hosted to investigate human capital metrics and indicators amongst key members of HR leadership in the NHS. The group met to explore a number of important concepts and challenges regarding metrics which face HR in the NHS today, with particular reference to HR data and its use as an indicator of patient care.

The quality of patient care within the NHS has never been under so much scrutiny. Significant failings at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust which came to light through the Healthcare Commission’s 2009 investigation soon became a significant scandal for the entire NHS. A broad range of issues was captured through a series of investigations into the Trust: low levels of patient care, mismanagement and poor leadership amongst top-tier managers within the Trust, and abnormally high patient mortality rates were a few of the significant problems that were publicly exposed.

As a result, Robert Francis QC led a public investigation in 2010, which when published in 2013 was critical of many aspects of the Trust, perhaps most significant of which was the culture of the workforce towards patient care quality. In his report into the public inquiry into Mid Staffs, Francis called for the development of: ‘a tool or methodology, such as cultural barometer to measure the cultural health of all parts of the system’. The need for trust boards to understand what underpins patient-centric organisational cultures was also called out by the recent Keogh Mortality Review into 14 failing trusts. The review highlighted the limited capability of hospital boards and leadership to use data to drive quality improvement. One of the key ambitions called out by the Keogh review was that: ‘The boards and leadership of provider and commissioning organisations will be confidently and competently using data and other intelligence for the forensic pursuit of quality improvement’.

To further probe attitudes of employees working in the healthcare sector, the CIPD recently partnered with the Healthcare People Management Association (HPMA) to investigate the role of employee culture on patient care in the healthcare sector. The report, Employee Outlook: Focus on culture and patient care in the NHS, published in September 2013, suggested that across organisations and disciplines within the field there may be areas that require significant improvement. Particularly striking were findings which appeared to illustrate critically low levels of trust and employee engagement; many clinicians responded that they are under excessive pressure to behave in ways that are counter to patient care, and less than six in ten respondents stated that they have confidence in processes designed to highlight and raise concerns and risks to patient care.

Against this backdrop, the role of human capital metrics in delivering greater quality of patient care is one which the healthcare sector is very keen to further understand. To do this HR leaders from across the NHS were invited to attend a roundtable event jointly hosted by the CIPD, NHS Employers and the Healthcare People Management Association, and to take part in a discussion covering important topics within the human capital metrics space.


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