Plans to pay bonuses to healthcare staff at some NHS trusts must be managed
carefully if they are to help drive up standards, the Association of Healthcare
Human Resource Management has warned.
The £3.5m pilot scheme announced by the Department of Health last week will
reward staff at 10 trusts if they meet specific targets in areas such as
waiting times and patient satisfaction.
Tracy Myhill, president of the AHHRM stressed that the bonus initiative must
be used alongside other performance incentives such as setting targets and
giving feedback if it is to be effective.
"Generally bonuses are more likely to improve performance when they are
linked to other management systems. However, there is a feelgood factor for
staff who receive a bonus or who are recognised through a rating system,"
"But pay alone won’t improve performance. All the research suggests
that it is the performance management system that actually raises the
standards. Pay should just be one aspect of that system which would include
things like setting objectives and regular appraisals."
Myhill is also concerned that staff in trusts where the bonus scheme does
not operate will feel undervalued.
But she welcomes the fact that in those trusts where the scheme does operate
all members of staff are eligible.
She added, "I like that it covers the full range of staff from porters
to nurses. Traditionally these sort of incentives have been very hierarchical.
"We have got to ensure, however, that our judging systems are fair and
accurate and the key is offering support to the underachievers so we can raise
standards," said Myhill.
Hospitals where the bonus scheme is operating will also be monitored for a
raft of other HR measures including absenteeism, recruitment, retention rates
and reliance on private agency nurses.
By Ross Wigham