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A Human Givens Approach Can Provide the Seeds for Culture Change

This week, we have been reading the Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust chaired by Robert Francis QC.

The executive summary makes a total of 290 recommendations of which an important theme is that a fundamental culture change is needed. It states that:

The NHS and all who work for it must adopt and demonstrate a shared culture in which the patient is the priority in everything done.

 And that this requires:

 A common set of core values and standards shared throughout the system.

This all sounds great, but we think this also highlights something vital which is missing: Unless you have a clear consensus about what really matters, it is really difficult for the people charged with delivering the service to know how adopting and demonstrating this shared culture is actually to be achieved. This consensus needs to be based on ideas which are as relevant to the board directors as they are to the ancillary staff.

There will always be debate about relative priorities within the NHS; is it cost-effective or to encourage one type of treatment over another for example. What seems to be missing is a simple organising idea which could draw together both the aims of the NHS and the way that the people who are involved with it are to be managed. I dare to suggest that if such an organising idea was already in use, the report might not require quite so many detailed recommendations.

We think that the needs-based model proposed by the human givens approach not only addresses these issues, but provides clear pathways for getting them implemented. That is why we think that in8 is an organisation which is ideally placed to make an impact in helping to make the necessary changes in addressing well-being in the widest context.

Twelve years ago, when the human givens approach was in its infancy, it was rare to hear people talking about prioritising needs. We are encouraged that the phrase “meeting needs” is now much more commonly used. The human givens approach doesn’t have all the answers to all the problems faced by the NHS, but it certainly could provide the seeds for the culture change which is so clearly needed.