Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Improving performance in the NHS

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 16 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b2773

Rapid Response:

Improving performance in the NHS

The solutions to improving clinical performance and engaging NHS
staff has been largely overcomplicated. Ask members of NHS staff what
disengages and frustrates them and a significant proportion will mention
understaffing and being forced onto an excessively target driven agenda
which focuses too little on actual quality of care. Maintaining safe
levels of staff is key to running a safe and effective service. In the
same way that we wouldn't board a plane that was understaffed, we
similarly should not accept a situation where hospitals are allowed to be
understaffed and in which a limited number of healthcare staff are
expected to make up for the shortfall. One way this could be achieved is
by creating a relief pool of doctors and nurses in each trust which could
be called on a daily basis to fill in the gaps in healthcare teams. I've
seen this work to good effect in New Zealand. If this key issue is
resolved, then I expect the problem of engaging staff will follow suit.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 August 2009
Shamil Haroon
Public health registrar
Sandwell PCT, B70 9LD