News: Government to protect NHS whistleblowers from employment discrimination

Empathy and emotional awareness within the field of NHS complaints, quality, patient safety, and leadership are the essence of my lived and breathed work.

CarolynComing from a counselling background but significantly following the loss of a 15-year-old child in a hospital, I now train healthcare and legal professionals on many aspects of what gets in the way of honest sharing and understanding vital emotional data to prevent prolonged psychological harm (Duty of Candour) for all involved. So I am pleased to read that further steps are going to be taken to support staff working in the NHS.

‘NHS whistleblowers will be protected from discrimination when applying for another job in the health service under draft regulations introduced by the Government on 19th March, 2018.

Part of efforts to make the NHS “the safest healthcare system in the world”, the proposed powers mean NHS employers will not lawfully be able to discriminate against job applicants who have previously blown the whistle on potential risks to patient safety.

Any applicants who face discrimination will get legal protection and NHS employers will face tough penalties if applicants’ complaints are upheld.

For too long we have failed to protect those who are brave enough to speak out when others won’t Caroline Dinenage

The move is part of the Government’s wider drive to develop a culture of openness and transparency within the NHS.

Caroline Dinenage, Minister of State for Care, said: “These important measures should ensure staff can raise concerns knowing they are protected by the law and that their career in the NHS will not be damaged as a result of wanting to do the right thing.

“For too long we have failed to protect those who are brave enough to speak out when others won’t.

“We want to make the NHS the safest healthcare system in the world so we must build a culture of openness and transparency among our staff.”

The changes were a key recommendation in Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak Up Review, which found a number of people struggled to find employment in the NHS after making protected disclosures about patient safety.

The measures sit alongside existing initiatives, which includes a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role within every NHS organisation as well as nationwide pilots to support NHS whistleblowers and help them back into work.

Subject to parliamentary approval on March 19, the regulations will give applicants a right to complain to an employment tribunal if they have been discriminated against because it appears they have previously spoken out.

It will also enable compensation to be awarded if a complaint is upheld.’

Promoting a collaborative responsibility towards the NHS and on the basis that whether patient, loved one (like I was), nurse, consultant or CEO, each and every person is a human being. A human being that is fallible and vulnerable, as well as strong and compassionate. Driven by emotions and fears. Having gone through the NHS complaints system myself, and now working with many complaints staff, to empower and inspire staff to be open and honest, providing care and protection also is vital in promoting a psychologically healthy NHS as well as safe one. All supporting an emotionally healthy culture for staff, that can be then transferred to the patients and loved ones.

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News: Trusts have improved because they have strong, visible leaderships that is compassionate and inclusive, says Dr. Paul Lelliot, deputy chief inspector of hospitals

 Strong leadership is vital to deliver improvements in mental health trusts, according to the CQC. As they call for improved leadership.

The commission has today published a report exploring how seven NHS mental healthtrusts have made significant improvements in the quality of care.

It found that there were common themes driving improvement across the featured trusts, with strong, visible and listening leadership being vital.

Inspectors also found that good leadership and good governance “go hand in hand,” and most of the trusts had made changes to their systems and processes to drive improvement.

The report features specialist mental health trusts that have achieved significant improvements on re-inspection, as shown by their CQC ratings.

The featured trusts were Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust (FT), Somerset Partnership NHS FT, Lincolnshire Partnership NHS FT, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS FT, North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, Calderstones Partnership NHS FT, and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS FT.

For many trusts, a poor CQC rating was a stimulus for improvement, with CQC reports used as a ‘springboard’ to make changes.

The report found that good leaders engage and empower staff, and that cultural changes support improvement.

It notes the importance of an environment where staff feel empowered to speak up, as well as the benefits of looking outward, working with other organisations within the local health and care system and voluntary sector.

Good and improving trusts recognise that lasting improvement depends on organisations working together, as well as taking into account the views and experiences of patients and the public.

Dr. Paul Lelliot, deputy chief inspector of hospitals and lead for mental health, said that it is “encouraging” that these trusts have demonstrated their ability to improve, whilst the mental health sector struggles with challenges including an unprecedented demand and workforce shortages.

He said that these trusts have improved because they have strong, visible leaderships that is compassionate and inclusive, which engages and empowers front-line staff, unlocking their full potential to develop and improve care.

“In this report, we give examples of how these trusts have worked hard to strengthen their leadership through training, mentoring and development; including through working with NHS Improvement.

“In particular, the report emphasises the essential role of strong clinical leadership that ensures that medical and nursing staff are fully at one with the trust’s ambitions,” he added, encouraging others to learn from the case studies to help them in their improvement work.

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A Journey Through Leadership Using Empathy

A journey in Leadership using empathy

Key Learning Outcomes:
– Who are we? Understanding & developing the human connection
– How to identify and understand emotionally focused thinking and practice and staff focused leadership
– How lack of empathy in one-on-one encounters has the potential to cause psychological harm, how to respond to others using empathy
– How to cultivate empathy and inclusive leadership- communicate at a deeper level
– How to use your new skills to enhance the human connection and handle difficult conversations
– How to manage empathy to prevent burn out and improve retention
Understand reflexive leadership and how to use these skills for staff well- being and productivity


Description: This one-day course examines, in a unique, thought provoking and human way, the important role empathy and emotional awareness plays in inclusive leadership, staff well-being and productivity, and what erodes it. Delegates will develop understanding of the psychology of emotionally focused thinking and outcomes and learn essential skills to understand and implement effective relationship focused work, underpinned with empathy and emotional development.

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C&C Empathy Training packages:

Click on link to see the full range of packages that C&C Empathy Training can help you with embedding empathy into your organisation.


News: Nursing Times highlights a ‘bullying culture’. Managing harmful behaviour.

An article published in the Nursing Times talks of a ‘bullying culture between accident and emergency department nurses at a hospital trust in Merseyside has led to “tribal divisions” between staff and has been perpetuated by bosses failing to intervene, an independent report has found’. It goes on to say….

‘The behaviour has been going on for many years and is aimed at newly promoted band 6 sisters, according to the report on Arrowe Park Hospital, which is run by Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Unedifying” comments were made by staff about colleagues, which suggested they did not understand one another’s role, expertise or personal circumstances, said the researchers.

It includes nurses undermining colleagues in front of less experienced staff, “aggressively” challenging their decisions, withholding information, and making comments suggesting they did not deserve the promotion, said the report.

They warned that these behaviors had been allowed to persist due to senior staff failing to address the issues.

“By allowing them to go unchallenged, people have at least been given passive permission and at worst, inadvertent encouragement to behave badly.’                                           Carolyn

It is very sad to read an article about bullying in nursing, indeed bullying in any environment, as nurses are no different from anyone else, human beings, capable of immense care and also uncompassionate behaviour.

With the work that I do with healthcare professionals on developing and communicating empathy and their own emotional awareness, alongside my background of counselling, people are always interested in understanding where bullying behavior comes from. The unconscious processes often play emotionally and how often we don’t understand the psychological damage it can do to the person on the receiving end.

Although my training is not about bullying specifically, the areas looked at explores the power and lack of empathy toward another, along with a lack of emotional awareness, both individually and organisationally. However, it does this through analysis of a case study, my story, that in fact has elements of the above but in a situation whereby my openness and honesty, allow people to feel empathy, and challenge their own thinking and biases, in a supportive, non-threatening environment. 

We all carry around many influencing factors in how we communicate and behave. We all have the ability to be manipulative and defensive, as well as kind and open. We all catch emotions from another (why culture is so important). Leaders often screenshot-11ask me the best way to develop empathy in their organisation, and my answer is, for it to be demonstrated from the top. With empathy being one of the most crucial skills in leadership, it is vital that the message is loud and clear in the cultural vision.

We all have our own ‘Funnel of Life’ to contend with. It’s why honesty from others about their vulnerabilities and unhelpful emotions, as well as helpful ones, speak again and again to the many people I work with in training workshops, or conferences. Screenshot (236)

woman-2696408_1280Behaviour that causes psychological harm to another, must always be challenged, I have suffered psychological harm from healthcare professionals myself, and bullying attitudes. The change though comes in people the most when they actually understand why they act as they do, and start to recognise the impact they are having on another and desire to act differently. Empathy and emotional awareness are key factors in this. Often to get to that point, however, you need to create the right environment to for people to start to examine themselves and who they actually want to be in a supportive way.  

Carolyn Cleveland, C&C Empathy Training #empathyenvoy 

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