The evidence base

The need to improve organisational culture in the NHS was highlighted as a key recommendation in the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry when it was published in 2013.

As a result, NHS Improvement, The Kings Fund and the Centre for Creative Leadership began to build upon more than 20 years of research into organisational culture change, and began piloting the Culture and Leadership Programme in 2015. The resources developed through this work were initially published in 2016, with further publications and refinements being made to incorporate learning as more organisations used the approach.

…it is the overall culture – “the way we do things in the NHS” – which will define what the NHS means and does…A positive culture as described does not just emerge through the good intentions of those working in the system. It needs to be defined, accepted by those who are to be part of it, and continually reinforced by leadership, training, personal engagement and commitment.”

Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry (2013)

You can read more about why culture is important in our mini-guide.

The evidence, from research and practice, confirms that leadership, particularly compassionate, diverse and inclusive leadership, is the key to enabling cultural change that enables NHS organisations to:

  • deliver high quality care and value for money while supporting a healthy and engaged workforce
  • create a greater sense of belonging for all staff, changing the lived experience for all disadvantaged groups and those who experience discrimination, bullying and unfairness (2019 Workforce Race Equality Standard Report)
  • enables staff and leaders to show compassion, to speak up, to continuously improve and create an environment where there is no bullying, racist or unfair treatment, where there is learning, quality and the need for system leadership

For more information on the concepts, evidence and research behind the Culture and Leadership Programme, and our approach please see our revised Culture and leadership programme: concepts and evidence mini-guide – coming soon.

For more resources about compassionate and inclusive leadership, culture change and national and international perspectives, have a look at our Inspiration pages.

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Sharing your stories

We’d love to hear your story too. Please join our Community of Practice or get in touch with the team: NHSI.Culture@nhs.net