Headlines: October 1st, 1997

The Department of Health has launched a consultation process as a move towards its first human resources strategy. The importance of the strategy was stressed by Health Minister Alan Milburn when he said: “The health and well-being of staff is central to the health and well-being of the NHS. The interests of staff and the interests of patients are inextricably linked. Treat staff well and they will treat patients better. I want to involve staff in developing the new system and I want to involve staff in helping to ensure its success.”A recent survey into why nurses leave the NHS has shown that causes include: better promotion opportunities elsewhere, gaining broader experience, better training, more suitable working hours and less stress. These findings have contributed to identifying issues which the human resource strategy must address if it is to be successful. The issues are:

  • promoting health at work by stopping avoidable accidents and avoiding violence

  • recognising and dealing with racism

  • flexible staffing policies that make the best use of staff

  • providing improved standards of food and accommodation for junior doctors on call

  • ensuring that all staff can speak out without victimisation

Mr Milburn said: “Moving staff concerns up the agenda is now going to be a real priority for the NHS. For too long the emphasis had been on what we expect from staff without addressing their concerns. The new Patient’s Charter, for instance, will also focus on the responsibility patients have to staff. Commitment is a two way street.”

The launch of the consultation process is raising awareness about staff concerns and it is expected that this will bring about a local response. The Minister has written to the Chairs of NHS Trusts and Health Authorities and made it clear action is required now.