Have you registered your organisation for the 2010 Healthcare 100? HSJ and Nursing Times have come together with NHS Employers and the Department of Health to identify the top healthcare providers to work for in the UK. Helen Mooney looks at one of last year’s winners

Yeovil District General Hospital

Top general acute trust, positioned 10th overall

Yeovil District General Hospital was the top-performing general NHS hospital in the Healthcare 100 awards this year and was ranked 10th in the overall Top 100 listing.

Staff comment on the size – there are 1,800 full-time employees – and the dynamic nature of the organisation. “It’s small enough to be personal and to know patients and staff but big enough to have variation,” says one staff member, while others comment on the family and team atmosphere.

Gavin Boyle, trust chief executive, is obviously proud of the trust, its staff and the atmosphere they have created. “We have the iCARE philosophy,” he explains. iCARE stands for communication, attitude, respect and environment. “This sets out a number of principles staff should follow when working with each other and with patients, these include clear communication, respect and a good environment within which to work.”

While being relatively small, the hospital is recognised as a high achiever and an innovator.  It has been in the top 20 per cent of trusts in the NHS’s staff attitude survey for the past three years. It was also the first trust to achieve the 18-week waiting time target and is one of the biggest employers in the area.

“How patients are treated and how we treat staff are two sides of the same coin, everyone is an individual and has a part to play including treating the patient as an individual,” Mr Boyle says.

One staff member believes that an “environment for creativity and innovation” is the reason why the hospital is achieving all of its targets and “setting the pace across the region, if not nationally”.

“It’s open, honest and really cares about individuals, which makes a significant impact on the care we deliver to our patients,” says another. 

The trust has been running a “formal” programme for the last couple of years which includes iCARE as part of the mandatory training process as well as building it into “mainstream management principles”. The trust also hosts its own “Shining Lights” programme which enables teams within the organisation to showcase and discuss service improvement on a regular basis. 

Mr Boyle is candid about the staff who work at the trust. “If they have not got the right attitude in terms of the iCARE principles then we don’t want them to work here…it is not just a warm and fluffy programme. 

“The atmosphere here is very different from other NHS organisations I have worked in, good communication means everyone here pulls together and there is real staff engagement, you only have to ask and things get done,” Mr Boyle says. 

Measuring the climate and the atmosphere within an NHS organisation can be intangible but the trust also has very low sickness rates currently at 3 per cent and Mr Boyle says that participating in the Healthcare 100 awards can also provide trusts with a way of measuring what staff think about the organisation they work in.

“It provides some really important information for us and evidence and includes areas we need to work on.” 

Going forward the two biggest priorities for the hospital are the quality and patient safety agenda and that of economic service improvement. 

“In terms of quality and patient safety if we are going to make strides in this area we have to have an open culture, staff have to be able to say what went wrong and look at how we can learn from it,” Mr Boyle explains. “With service improvement it is also about people committing to it and seeing the connections and that needs engagement and the right climate,” he adds.

The Healthcare 100, researched by Ipsos MORI on behalf of HSJ and Nursing Times, is based on the results of an exclusive poll of the employees of participating organisations. It is open to both NHS and independent healthcare providers in the acute, primary care, mental health and ambulance sectors.

Why is the Healthcare 100 important for you?

  • Discover how you rank in relation to other organisations from the public, independent and voluntary sectors
  • Raise your organisation’s profile and celebrate your staff engagement
  • Support your efforts to recruit the very best staff by being known as a top employer
  • Ascertain what your employees think of you
  • Receive a detailed feedback report on your organisation

How to take part:

  1. Register your organisation before 31 December 2009
  2. Complete the online employer survey
  3. Distribute employee surveys to your staff
  4. Return all surveys by 31 January 2010