NHS HR chief confident that workplace reforms will improve delivery of healthcare

Clare Chapman has told Personnel Today that her 18 months as workforce director-general at the NHS have been a “privilege” – and that she believes the health service’s new staff constitution will improve poorly-performing trusts.

Speaking exclusively to Personnel Today on the 60th anniversary of the NHS, Chapman said she was confident the constitution would bring lagging local employers up to scratch.

The draft NHS constitution was published at the end of last month in conjunction with Lord Darzi’s review on the future of the health service. Based on the results of staff and patient opinion surveys, it lists rights and responsibilities for staff, as well as what patients should expect from the NHS.

“Staff and the public want to know what the NHS stands for as it moves away from being a monolithic nationalised industry,” Chapman said. “This is about answering what the NHS is, as well as what it isn’t.

“There are a lot of things I hope to do through the NHS HR community, in terms of making sure we stretch the system around behaviours and practices that are happening in the best trusts, and ensuring they actually happen in all trusts,” she said.

Lord Darzi’s Next Stage Review of government plans for the NHS called for trusts to be held accountable for their training budgets, and for nursing staff to be encouraged to opt out of the NHS to sell their services back as social enterprises.

Chapman said the report’s focus on improving and maintaining the quality of the workplace was “fantastic”.

“I’m absolutely delighted that’s what the Darzi Review focused on,” said Chapman. “We recognise there’s a big element of quality in our staff, and our constitution will ensure we continue to focus on improving quality of professionalism, of the workforce strategy, of education and training.”

What the NHS constitution means for employers

Under the draft constitution, the NHS pledges to strive to:

  • provide all staff with well-designed and rewarding jobs that make a difference
  • provide all staff with personal development, access to appropriate training for their jobs, and line management support to succeed
  • provide support and opportunities for staff to keep themselves healthy and safe
  • engage staff in decisions that affect them and the services they provide, individually and through representatives.

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