Trust slashes disciplinary cases by 75 per cent

A Leeds NHS trust has slashed the number of disciplinary cases it faces by
75 per cent after introducing a new framework which encourages staff to take
responsibility for their actions.

The HR director at Leeds Mental Health Teaching NHS Trust, Jane Burtoft,
decided 18 months ago that the trust needed to transform the way it dealt with
disciplinary issues because of the high number of cases and to combat the issue
of blame culture.

"At any one time there were about 30 ongoing disciplinary cases and
there was a very poor relationship with the staff side [union
representatives]," she said.

"People were disciplined, but there was no follow-through. Something
was needed to reduce the number of cases, change the culture and people’s
attitudes."

In response, Burtoft developed a Personal Responsibility Framework in
conjunction with the unions, to encourage staff to take the initiative in
reporting potential disciplinary incidents they were involved in.

The framework asked staff to take 50 per cent responsibility for everything
happening around them, and was designed to promote active rather than passive
behaviour.

Burtoft produced better guidance for line managers and trained them to help
play a part in changing the work culture.

The trust also moved the resolution of disciplinary issues up the agenda.
Managers were told to make disciplinary issues their top priority to ensure
cases were settled quicker.

The trust now holds a case conference prior to any disciplinary hearing,
comprising the line manager, staff representative and a member of the HR team
to discuss how to manage the process so it is completed within six to eight
weeks.

"It is more important that disciplinary cases are dealt with as swiftly
as possible because they affect everybody and create morale and productivity
problems," said Burtoft.

To ensure all staff were aware of the framework, everyone was sent a leaflet
summarising the guidance, regular briefings are held across the trust and the
new guidelines form a key part of the organisation’s induction and performance
review process.

By Ben Willmott

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