About us>>Annual Report>>Section 3: model employer

Section 3: model employer

2007/10 objective: developing an efficient, skilled and adaptable workforce

Model employer - two nurses

The quality of Barts and The London’s 6,800 staff – and the further 1,000 vital support staff who are managed by our new hospitals partners – enables us to deliver excellence. As an organisation, we are committed to recruiting and retaining the highest calibre staff, and to valuing and supporting them through education and training. We were one of the first trusts to be awarded Practice Plus accreditation in the national Improving Working Lives initiative in recognition of our achievement as a good employer, offering support to our staff with a strong emphasis on work-life balance.

In June 2007, our human resources directorate won two awards in the Excellence in Human Resources Management awards – one for HR team of the year, the other for innovation for our HR Consult service (see below).  

Working smarter, not harder

Barts and The London completed the implementation of Agenda for Change – the new NHS pay system covering all non-medical and dental staff – in 2006/07.  The system provides a framework for fairer, more consistent pay and career progression, and gives greater scope for creating more varied and stimulating roles. Together with the new consultant contract, it represents a significant investment in our workforce and underlines our commitment to make the best use of our talented staff, providing increased job satisfaction and an excellent service to our patients.

Redesigning roles 

Barts and The London encourages staff to learn new skills and develop their careers, which can also provide more efficient support for clinical teams and a better service for patients by freeing up specialist clinical staff to focus on patients’ needs.  In 2006/07, we redesigned five different medical secretary roles, meaning that, within their role and working to agreed protocols, some medical secretaries now give out test results to patients, while others focus on audio-typing, enabling us to send out discharge letters to GPs within 48 hours. 

We continued to develop assistant practitioner roles, to provide high-level support to registered practitioners such as nurses, radiographers and biomedical scientists, by undertaking a range of delegated tasks under supervision.  As part of this initiative, radiography and pathology staff are undertaking foundation degrees – a national qualification funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England – which develops careers, improves efficiency and allows registered practitioners to become more expert and specialist.

Improving efficiency

Model employer - nurse and patient

As part of our Best Value programme (click here for more information), we need to ensure that our staff are able to work as efficiently as possible.  To this end, we have reduced the use of temporary staff, cutting agency staff costs by £11 million in two years, largely by lowering nurse vacancies from 16 per cent to five per cent.

A great place to work

Barts and The London is committed to ensuring that both clinical and non-clinical staff are valued by recognising their achievements and giving them opportunities to develop their skills and careers to a high standard.

Survey highlights positive feeling in hospitals

The 2006/07 annual NHS staff survey highlighted the positive feeling within Barts and The London, which compared favourably with other hospitals.  The survey also found that teams are well structured and that there is a good culture of incident reporting compared with others.

Ninety-three per cent also said that they had taken part in employer-supported training, learning or development during the last year and nearly two thirds use flexible working options in their job.  We offer a variety of flexible working options, available to all staff, not just those with children, including job share, term-time working and annualised hours.

Equal opportunities for all

No form of discrimination is tolerated within our hospitals, and we have policies and initiatives in place to respect, support and promote awareness of the diverse needs of patients, staff and visitors.

Our commitment to promoting equality of opportunity among staff is outlined in our five-year strategy document, Equality and Diversity – A Strategy for the Modern Workforce, while equalities work is led by a special steering group, which reports to the Trust board.  

We were one of 40 organisations to pilot the Positively Diverse programme, a development tool designed to help organisations create a working environment where all staff, whatever their differences, feel valued and have a fair and equitable quality of working life.  The programme encourages an organisational culture that accepts the differences between individuals and values the benefits that diversity brings. We have been designated a lead site in a new Positively Diverse national network, enabling us to develop further expertise in this area and provide support and guidance to new organisations embarking on the scheme.

Model employer - Tom Foot, Celebrating Success awards

Celebrating success awards

Awards were presented to more than 150 staff at our annual Celebrating Success ceremony in March 2007.  In their second year, the awards are designed to recognise and reward staff who have excelled over the past 12 months.  Twenty-nine teams received nominations for the Excellence in Teamwork award and 59 staff were nominated for the Outstanding Individual award.  Awards were also given to recognise success in educational qualifications, and long service – 25 years – at Barts and The London.

Recruiting the best and recruiting locally

As well as attracting motivated, high-quality staff, we want Barts and The London’s workforce to reflect the local population – the most diverse in Europe in terms of language, culture, religion and ethnicity – so that our services are more culturally and linguistically sensitive.  In addition, a more local workforce contributes to regeneration, especially around Whitechapel, by providing sustainable development opportunities for local people.

Increasing the number of Muslim nurses and midwives

We are developing a strategy for recruiting more midwives and nurses from the Muslim community based on a review by our Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Network.  Their report highlighted that although Barts and The London is considered an attractive employer and that there is interest in the local Muslim community in the nursing profession, challenges exist around religious and cultural barriers.  We are now working with colleagues at City University to increase awareness in the community of potential career options in local health care. 

Health careers for sixth form students

Model employer - post room

Barts and The London is helping to increase uptake of health and health science courses and attract students to further education through the Health and Science Pathway for East London (HASPEL). Working with local organisations, our hospitals provided 60 placements in 2006/07 for sixth form students from Tower Hamlets College. The project also highlights the range of careers in the NHS using drama groups and sessions at Barts and The London’s medical simulation centre.

HASPEL complements the Actions for Community Employment (ACE) project developed with Employment Solutions, a not-for-profit consortium that helps Tower Hamlets residents find jobs. In its first two years, ACE has helped more than 300 local people gain entry-level posts in our hospitals to ensure the make-up of staff closely represents our hospitals’ diverse localities. ACE’s work was recognised nationally when it was shortlisted for the second year running in the Health Service Journal awards for 2006, which celebrate all aspects of healthcare management.  

Innovative learning and development

Our dedicated learning and development team offers training and support to ensure that departments have the right staff and skills to enable them to respond quickly to future changes in healthcare provision.

New e-learning centre for staff

Our new staff e-learning centre is a six-computer facility offering access to online courses to provide a more flexible way of learning during office working hours. Courses include diversity awareness, appraisal techniques and stress management.  Staff can also watch training videos and DVDs on the centre’s new plasma screen.  Some courses are internet-based and can be accessed from work or home. 

Developing the clinical workforce

Barts and The London works closely with our partners at St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery and at Barts and The London, Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry, to ensure that our hospitals continue to play an important role in teaching and developing the clinicians of the future.

Model employer - doctor and patient

Medical and dental education 

We are reviewing structures and training in readiness for the introduction of Modernising Medical Careers, a new nationwide initiative to improve patient care.  Trainees will progress through more formally structured programmes of training, which will result in a workforce of accredited doctors who have credentials in defined competencies. They will also have opportunities to develop experience in a range of specialities, offering them an insight into possible career options or building a wider appreciation of medicine before embarking on specialist training.

During the year, there has also been a steady increase in training offered to all grades of medical staff and more engagement with both medical and dental teams, as well as with other clinical staff, to provide good quality teaching within our hospitals.

Nursing and midwifery educational opportunities

Barts and The London continues to be a popular placement area for pre-registration nursing and midwifery students, providing the majority of hospital placements for students enrolled at St Bartholomew School of Nursing and Midwifery based at City University.

In 2006/07, we continued to provide in-house clinical courses, as well as a range of opportunities at City and London South Bank universities, with three nurses now registered on PhD programmes and many others on specialist courses which can lead to bachelors or masters degrees.

We also completed work on core competencies for nurses, including guidance on course or experience requirements to progress their careers.

Building strong leadership and management skills

Barts and The London needs good managers and leaders to sustain the high performance of our teams and individuals, and we have focused resources on developing our senior staff to the highest standards. 

Leadership development initiatives 

Model employer - nurse

Our leadership programme, supported by specialist coaching staff, allows frontline and executive-level managers to develop individual leadership styles and effective teams. In 2006/07, 126 managers went on the programme and support was provided for a further nine teams both from corporate and clinical service areas. We also employ people management coaches who, since their introduction in November 2005, have provided support to more than 800 managers. 

New manager induction programme

In September 2006, we introduced a new induction programme both for managers who are new to Barts and The London and for existing staff who are new to management.  The programme aims to provide a balance of information, raise awareness and understanding of our main priorities and policies, and develop skills in personal effectiveness, managing performance and team building. 

Integrated HR advice

Since its introduction in December 2005, HR Consult has helped 5,210 staff, connecting them to specialist HR advisors for advice and support on issues such as attendance management, bullying and harassment, disciplinary and grievance issues, quality and diversity, flexible working and performance management. The service can be contacted via a dedicated phone advice line and e-mail.

State-of-the-art electronic HR information system

In June 2006, a new, easy-to-use electronic HR information system – e-HR – went live, providing staff with quick and easy access to information on HR issues via the intranet.  Based on a leading-edge service run by BT, it provides immediate information to allow managers to self-help on employee relations issues. 

Involving our staff

Barts and The London’s staff and those managed by our new hospitals partners have many opportunities to get involved in the life and work of our hospitals beyond their core roles. 

Between January and March 2007, we worked closely with all our staff to ensure that they had the chance to comment on our proposals for establishing a new foundation trust (click here for more information).  In response to their concerns, we increased staff representation on the proposed new members’ council from six to eight to ensure that staff views are heard and accounted for in setting strategy and developing hospital services. 

As well as formal consultation and negotiating mechanisms and a policy on partnership working with trade unions and professional organisations, we hold our own staff surveys and focus groups and participate in the annual NHS staff survey. 

Improved communications for all staff

Ensuring staff have easy access to information about our hospitals that might affect them is a priority, enabling them to know how they can play a part in delivering our objectives.

In 2006, we won national Communicators in Business awards of excellence for internal communications and for the annual report 2005/06, ranking alongside leading blue-chip companies. Our communications team was also shortlisted for the prestigious PR Week awards as public sector communications team of the year – the only healthcare team in the category.

A survey carried out in April 2006 indicated that staff were generally satisfied with the communications they received. Feedback has led to several improvements to make our communications more accessible and appealing. Our staff newspaper has been redesigned in a news magazine format and our intranet site, used regularly by 94 per cent of respondents, has a new look with improved structure and ease of navigation.

Other communications channels include a weekly electronic bulletin, management briefings and open meetings to keep staff up to date on key developments. Another innovation this year has been the use of online polls, which proved particularly popular during our foundation trust consultation as an interactive medium for gathering the views of staff.