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

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Positioned 13th overall

This huge trust employs over 6,000 staff across more than 100 sites in a variety of roles from learning disabilities through to Rampton Hospitals and its highly secure environment. Yet it is clear that the staff feel supported. “The organisation has been like a second family,” says one.

Opportunities for training are praised, along with the friendly atmosphere.

The trust secured thirteenth place in the Healthcare 100 awards and was also voted the top largest employer in the survey. 

The organisation clearly takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously and appears committed to ensuring that equality and diversity is central to its culture. Staff commented that they felt supported, opportunities for training were praised, along with the friendly working atmosphere.

Chief executive Mike Cooke says that in his opinion patient experience is closely linked to staff satisfaction. “It is good practice to track both regularly, and the Healthcare 100 survey gives us another opportunity to benchmark this with our peer NHS providers.” 

The trust has a strong history of working in partnership with its staff, service users and carers.  Senior managers say that feedback to staff on the work of the trust is vital to ensure that they are kept informed and engaged, and that their questions are answered and ideas acted upon. Mr Cooke regularly undertakes “Catch Up With Cooke”- open sessions held across the trust where any member of staff can discuss matters which are affecting their work. 

Other forms of staff engagement include “Up For Discussion” – a monthly update from the leadership team. Staff, service users and carers also regularly work alongside each other to explore and develop current and future service provision. One example is the Employment Resources and Interview Forum which brings together a group of trained service users and carers who regularly participate in staff recruitment and selection processes.  

Lorraine Eastham associate director of HR explains that the trust has a “bespoke leadership programme” which focuses on networking and the leaders agenda. “Our line managers are encouraged to focus on leading their team and see service improvement by consistently and meaningfully working alongside people who use our services. This is seen as part of their day job and not project work.”

As a large local employer, the trust has a range of employment policies and procedures which help it to enable the balance of home and work life among staff. These include providing the facilities for staff to work from home, or away from their normal work base together with a range of flexible working practices such as term time working and annualised hours.  Staff are also encouraged to care for their colleagues and are further supported with occupational health and staff counselling services. 

The trust believes that recognising the work of staff is vitally important.  In addition to encouraging a culture of saying “thank you” on a daily basis it holds an annual OSCARS – Outstanding Service Contribution and Recognition Scheme - where staff are publicly recognised for the work that they undertake. 

Ongoing opportunities are also taken throughout the year to enable staff to showcase the valuable work that they do – the most recent of which was at the trust’s annual general meeting.

Ms Eastham says: “As a relatively new appointee to the trust myself, I have been very impressed by the friendly working atmosphere and the strong commitment to working in true partnership with staff, service users and carers. This is not something that is an occasional input, but a ‘golden thread’ that runs through all aspects of the trust’s work.”

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:

  • Register your organisation before 31 December 2009
  • Complete the online employer survey
  • Distribute employee surveys to your staff
  • Return all surveys by 31 January 2010