Turning the culture of a hospital around

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Eight years ago, Birmingham Children’s Hospital was criticised for not having enough beds, operating theatres or trained staff. This week, it became the first hospital to be given an “outstanding” rating by inspectors.

Fiona Reynolds is the hospital’s most senior doctor. She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that the massive improvement came about through changing the hospital’s culture – and specifically, by making sure that the hospital’s teams were treated the way they wanted patients to be treated.

The way you treat staff is the way you treat patients

She told the Today Programme: “There aren’t two cultures – there’s only one. The way you treat the staff is the way they treat patients. So you treat your teams with compassion and they treat their patients with compassion.”

She said the hospital now “believed in staff” and was “investing in the front line”.

Cultural change is always seen as being a monstrously difficult thing to achieve. We don’t believe it is – it just needs a change in thinking and then a steadfast commitment to make the new way of thinking part of business as usual. You have to understand that cultural change isn’t simply creating a new strapline or values – it’s about realigning process and systems so that values mean something.

That’s why we love this story – and will probably make efforts to learn even more about it.

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