J is for … Just and Learning Culture

 In Speak Up Month

Lorraine Hutchings, Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and  Membership and stakeholder engagement manager
NHS Resolution

A just and learning culture is the balance of fairness, justice and learning. It is not about seeking to blame the individuals involved when something goes wrong. It is also not about an absence of responsibility and accountability

Valuing and supporting staff to speak up confidently before or when things go wrong is key to driving improvements for patients and staff. We all need to support the principle of a learning culture for both patients and staff, particularly following incidents.

NHS Resolution’s Being fair: Supporting a just and learning culture for patients and staff following incidents in the NHS publication, authored by Roger Kline, Suzette Woodward and Denise Chaffer, sets out the argument for organisations adopting a more reflective approach to learning from incidents and supporting staff.

Embedding a learning culture and making sure that when people do speak up that they are fully supported within the organisation is crucial. The publication contains a suggested Just and Learning Culture Charter for organisations to adapt to and adopt local circumstances.

It also includes helpful examples from organisations that have started building their just and learning cultures:

  • Restorative approach: Mersey Care NHS Trust and the use of a restorative approach adopted from and influenced by the work of Professor Sidney Dekker (2017)
  • Triage system: Barts Health NHS Trust and the use of a triage system to determine whether disciplinary action is necessary or inappropriate
  • A just culture guide: NHS Improvement ‘just culture guide’ which also acts as an aide memoire for people to assess the appropriate response when something goes wrong (NHS Improvement 2018).

If you want to know more about Being fair, listen to the webinar by Suzette Woodward, one of the authors.

Whatever the culture, dealing with concerns about a professional’s practice can be challenging. Expert and independent advice from our Practitioner Performance Advice service is available to help healthcare organisations respond to concerns relating to doctors, dentists or pharmacists. Your organisation’s link adviser can be contacted by calling us on 020 7811 2600.

For all other health professionals, advice is available from the relevant governing body or contact your HR team.

For more information please contact communications@resolution.nhs.uk

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