Published: 14/07/2005, Volume II5, No. 115 Page 43

Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland strategic health authority and workforce development confederation has become the first SHA to achieve Improving Working Lives practice plus status.

Human resources manager Rachel Wardle says that although SHAs may have it 'slightly easier' to implement practice plus, it is important for them to be judged in the same way as patient-facing organisations and to show commitment to their own workforce.

The SHA achieved initial IWL practice plus status in February last year. To achieve the next step it retained its steering committee, renamed it 'implementation committee', and reorganised some of the action groups beneath that.

There were around 15 people on the implementation committee, chaired by a non-executive director, and anything from five to 12 people on the other groups.

Rachel says the next step is a proposal to the board to turn the IWL implementation group into a type of joint consultative committee staff council.

'It is important for any organisation to prove that its staff like to be at work and are listened to, ' says Rachel. 'And in SHAs a lot of staff have outward-facing roles.

Sometimes people forget we are an organisation ourselves. We are an employer in our own right and need to look after our own staff.' To achieve practice plus status, Rachel suggests:

work with your communications department and use a range of ways to keep staff informed, including posters, emails, and seminars;

involve the whole organisation - get as many people from as many different directorates involved as you possibly can.