Aberdeen researchers examine English patient care

Aberdeen researchers examine English patient care

Leading researchers from the University of Aberdeen are involved in a high profile Department of Health commissioned project to evaluate the extent to which cultural and behavioural change is occurring in the NHS in England.

The study follows on from the Westminster 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 Universities of Aberdeen, Aston, Leicester and Birmingham and the National Association for Patient Participation, will monitor how the NHS is responding to HQCfA. The team led by Professor Michael West of Aston University will make recommendations as to how higher quality of care can be achieved and will also set out detailed action plans to support implementation of these recommendations.

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.

Professor McKee, Director of the Delivery of Care Programme at the University’s Health Services Research Unit, is leading Aberdeen’s involvement in the project. She said: “This is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with leading teams across the UK and to add insights about how to achieve effective and timely change to improve patient care.

“This research is shaped by close involvement with staff at all levels of the service and with patients.

“This will ensure that we produce useful and grounded recommendations and practical solutions. Our research will aim to understand what facilitates and drives quality of care, making a real difference to patient care not just in England but across the UK.”

Professor McKee, Professor of Management, will collaborate with Professor Mary Dixon-Woods on two work streams within this project. One work stream will develop in-depth understanding of the quality of care in four NHS Trusts in England, and the second work stream will involve interviewing strategic level individuals - ideally chief executives - across 100 NHS organisations.

Key objectives of these work streams focus on:

·      The extent to which behavioural and cultural change is consistent with the principles of HQCFA is occurring in hospital settings.

·      The extent of leadership and staff motivation for engagement with the principles of HQCfA in hospital settings.

·      How far strategic stakeholders, clinical and non-clinical leaders and NHS hospital organisational systems are promoting and supporting the vision, cultural and behavioural changes specified in HQCfA.

·      Strategies for speeding up and making more effective the cultural and behavioural changes required to implement HQCfA, including provision of real-time feedback.

·      What kinds of resistances stakeholders perceived as occurring at the “sharp end”, where many of the changes need to occur.

Research tools such as in-depth interviews and direct observations 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.