We wanted to take a look at how employees within the healthcare industry are coping with the NHS crisis – on top of what is already a very challenging sector to work in – and whether they feel HR is supporting them adequately in their role. In this anonymised interview, a Clinical Lead for Community Nursing argues that HR need to look more deeply into employee issues and work to improve them.
Could you start by telling us a bit about your current job role and your employment history inside and outside of the healthcare industry?
I am a Clinical Lead for Community Nursing in a large Northern town, who has worked in the community for 25 years after training and working as a nurse.
My role involves developing standards and policy for practice, creating and delivering training on NICE Guidance, supporting and performance managing staff, offering clinical guidance and supervising. I ensure Quality Standards and CQC recommendations are implemented, and strive to empower and develop the talents of others.
What do you enjoy about working in healthcare?
Enabling staff to do the best job they can and ensuring practice is current, evidence-based and safe.
And what do you find most challenging?
The internal market (which wastes lots of money), the ever-changing goal posts of care and commissioners who want ever-increasing detail that prevents time being spent on improving services.
What do you think of your organisation? Do you feel they care about you as an individual?
I worry the organisation will lose the tender for our services. My colleagues value the work I do, but I doubt my employing Trust knows what I do to maintain care and standards.
There is currently a huge strain on the UK healthcare sector. How do you find this is affecting your day-to-day job?
It’s really difficult to match best care and standards with tendering and the ever threat of inspection. My time is taken up doing the wrong things. Writing reports and cleaning up data is not the best use of my talents.
If you could have any job what would it be?
True leadership within the NHS: helping others improve care whilst being creative in their approach and remaining safe. I am not sure this exists within the NHS.
Generally speaking, what does HR mean to you?
Two things. First, organisational safety: sickness, performance, standards of employment, retention and recruitment of staff and negotiation of conditions. Second, developing enthusiasm and talent, promoting leadership, noticing and understanding negative attitudes, challenging practice, rewarding productivity.
How does your HR team support you?
HR has not been involved in my development. My induction was terrible... but I believe it has improved. The HR department is only involved with someone if they are ill or have done something wrong. The trust does have various social and activity-based initiatives but none have appealed to me. Counselling or occupational health is available and adapted workstations help some staff.
Do you have a good working relationship with your line manager?
My line manager is good but over worked. Too many demands on her time mean staff development/appraisals are sidelined and delayed or cut short.
Have you noticed any new practices or technologies that have been implemented by your HR team in recent years? If so, how have these impacted you?
I don't know of any. Erostering was meant to help with managing staff but the package was not fit for practice and has got to be modified for our service.
In what areas do you think HR could be supporting you better?
HR need to try and understand staff issues better – if staff are negative there is normally a reason. Use psychology to explore the issues, involve staff in setting a plan and measure the improvement… rather than just telling staff what to do.
If you have an HR-related query, what do you do?
Email my line manager, email HR dept or talk to a colleague. Clinical supervision helps sort out chaotic thinking.
Finally, what three things would you like your HR team to be doing to enable you to progress in your career?
1. Provide good data collection systems. 2. Work with staff to help them understand the processes. 3. Be consistent and have the courage to trust other staff.