A culture of self-preservation in the NHS is potentially damaging patient welfare and emotional well-being, claims an Emotional Intelligence expert with experience in working in the sector.
According to Emotional Intelligence Expert Scott Watson, junior staff in the NHS are reluctant to question decisions made by more senior colleagues, even when decisions are fundamentally flawed, and steer clear of positively questioning more senior staff. And he argues that ‘self-preservation’ is the key reason that so few employees fail to ‘blow the whistle’ on such bad practices.
What is needed, Watson argues, is a culture of candour, where staff can discuss issues and share good practices without fear for their jobs or loss of standing with their boss.
While targets are an important part of organisational life and can enable an organisation to accurately identify, measure and change ways of operating, they must be partnered with a very clear human focus to be of any genuine value. And this, he states, is where NHS Trusts and Government directives are failing to offer patient-centric care. Welcoming a practice of ‘whistleblowing’ would help expose these bad practices and promote more accountability and transparency with senior leaders and managers who are being trusted, expected and indeed paid, to do the right thing, do things right, and maintain or improve standards.
“An example of this occurred recently at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, with a report stating that patients and families have suffered from a lack of basic kindness, compassion and care. The focus on providing a high level of patient care has been swept aside, in the rush to deliver targets,” states Watson.
“Technical competence and professional seniority do not automatically provide a medical practitioner with the vital qualities of empathy and emotional resilience. These skills develop with practice and training, which a culture of candour would foster,” he adds.
More Whistleblowers Needed
Alongside technical and medicinal training, medical staff employed in a patient facing role should also undertake Emotional Intelligence skills training, states Watson.
“As well as improving and developing high trust relationships with worried patients, Emotional Intelligence skills will promote a culture of candour where staff, however junior, feel safe in speaking their truth to managers and in suggesting better processes and procedures. A very positive form of ‘whistleblowing’,” he states.
“Staff will also be better equipped to manage the inevitable stresses they will experience, as well as being better able to obtain more relevant, precise information from patients. This will enable them to reach better decisions on how to treat the individual,” concludes Watson.
Emotional Intelligence Speaker Scott Watson is available for conference speaking events and Emotional Intelligence Training throughout the UK in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Durham, York, Middlesbrough, Darlington, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Chester, Cardiff, Swansea, Birmingham, Shropshire, Cambridge, Oxford, London and many more European cities.