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Taking care of our staff helps to provide better care for our patients - 18 February 2015

Taking care of our staff helps to provide better care for our patients - 18 February 2015

Musgrove Park Hospital is using ‘Schwartz Rounds’ to ensure that by taking care of their staff they are providing better care for their patients.

Two years after Sir Robert Francis’ Inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust recommended Schwartz Rounds as a way to help bring about positive culture change in the NHS, over 104 Trusts, including Musgrove Park Hospital are using them to motivate staff teams.

Schwartz Rounds are supported by the hospital’s Executive Directors and are expertly facilitated, confidential, meetings where staff from all backgrounds and professions voluntarily come together to discuss the emotional and social challenges associated with their jobs. The underlying premise for Schwartz Rounds is that the compassion shown by staff can make all the difference to a patient’s experience of care, but that in order to provide care with compassion, staff must themselves feel supported in their work. 

At Musgrove Park Hospital, Schwartz Rounds have been running since 2011 and have been shown to be an effective strategy for providing support to healthcare staff and for enhancing relationships among them and with their patients.

Jocelyn Cornwell, chief executive of The Point of Care Foundation, said: “Two years after the publication of the Francis Inquiry, the positive uptake of Schwartz Rounds across the NHS and beyond shows organisations are embracing culture change.
But while the ‘Francis effect’ is not dead, it is a difficult time for the NHS. There is a risk that the energy put into supporting staff to deliver excellent care in the wake of the Francis inquiry will slip. The challenge will be to keep supporting staff to deliver excellent patient care in the face of immense financial, capacity and organisational pressures. The Point of Care Foundation maintains that the NHS cannot deliver good care unless it provides good support to staff. Schwartz Rounds provide much needed support to healthcare staff.”

One of the facilitators at Musgrove Park Hospital, Dr Vanessa Snowdon-Carr, clinical psychologist, said: “People work in the NHS because they want to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of patients. But with the increased pressure on the NHS; trying to provide the best possible care in the most compassionate way can be a real challenge. In order to keep the patient at the heart of everything we do, we also have to look after our excellent and dedicated staff, and the Schwartz Rounds at Musgrove are one way we can do this.

Dr Joanne Watson, clinical director of women’s and children’s services at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “Being in health care is hard work, with modern medicine being complex and emotionally difficult too. We spend a lot of time thinking about the former and not enough about the latter. The Schwartz Rounds give people time to think and reflect both about their own experiences and how much they cross over with other people’s. I feel uplifted every time I attend a Schwartz Round - proud to be part of the NHS and amazed at the tenderness and compassion of my colleagues around me.”