A new set of principles for all staff employed by the Welsh NHS, which form the basis of the “Welsh way” of working, has been unveiled by Wales’ Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford.
The NHS core principles, which have been developed in partnership by the Welsh Government, NHS Employers and trade unions, are the foundation of how staff should work across and within NHS Wales.
The core principles put the public and patients first and have been developed to ensure the NHS delivers the best possible care to those with the greatest health needs first. They also put an emphasis on wellbeing and preventative healthcare and supporting NHS employees’ continuing professional development.
- We put patients and users of our services first;
- We seek to improve our care;
- We focus on wellbeing and prevention;
- We reflect on our experiences and learn;
- We work in partnership and as a team;
- We value all who work for the NHS.
Professor Drakeford said:
“In Wales we have so much to be proud, and for me the NHS epitomises the sprint and endeavour of our nation. We have a service which delivers day in and day out by committed and highly professional staff.
“There are more people working in the Welsh NHS today then there were 10 years ago and each and every member of staff is key to ensuring the NHS remains one of the most trusted and cherished institutions Wales has. I never fail to be inspired by this dedication to patient care.
“I am delighted to launch the Core Principles for the NHS in Wales. The very definition of principle is a fundamental truth that serves as a foundation for a system of belief. I hope it is clear to everyone that these are the fundamental truths we all wish to see our NHS proceed on. I am determined these principles will become integral to the way we work in the NHS in Wales.
“These principles will be owned by everyone connected to the NHS in Wales, especially the staff, who already embody them; whether it is putting their patients first, learning from their experiences or pulling together as teams.”
Richard Tompkins, director of NHS Wales Employers, said:
“The core principles have been developed as a result of working in partnership with colleagues from across the NHS in Wales together with NHS trade union representatives. They are a tangible demonstration of our ongoing commitment to coming together to create different ways of working within NHS Wales.
“The principles are our new approach to improving standards and care within NHS Wales and support the significant work already underway across all health boards and trusts on developing workplace cultures based on shared values and behaviours for all staff. They will support improved communication between colleagues, the development of better employment policies and help with timely responses and solutions to situations that might arise within the workplace.
“They will be the guiding principles for how we all work together across the health service and act as a foundation for organisations when developing their own frameworks.”
Dawn Bowden, head of health at Unison Cymru Wales, said:
“Unison has members working across the whole of the NHS in Wales, in all grades and in all settings. We wholeheartedly welcome the introduction of these core principles.
“They set out clearly what patients, relatives and staff can expect from the Welsh NHS. The application of these principles will apply across every health board and trust and will demonstrate how the ‘Welsh way’ of working in partnership can benefit everyone who works or uses the service.”
Dr Phil Banfield, chair of BMA Cymru Wales, said:
“These principles represent the beginning of something fundamental and exciting for the NHS in Wales. It is entirely within the power of those who lead, practice and use our NHS to introduce, enact and live by these values. They empower patients, staff and those tasked with running our NHS equally.
“Not only does this unify the excellent work started by several health boards already but it also signals that the organisation is learning to listen, to value comment, feedback and criticism, because it belongs to the patients it serves and those who work in it, live nearby and are patients themselves.
“BMA Cymru Wales is committed to working with partners to make sure that real change happens and that staff and patients can see and feel the difference. If we can do this, we will have an NHS to be even more proud of, but more importantly, it will be an NHS that professionals will want to work in and stay working in. The importance of this cannot be overstated.”
Tina Donnelly, director of the RCN in Wales said:
“The RCN in Wales is proud to support the new core principles. We’ve been closely involved in this work from its offset and are pleased to see it come to fruition with a set of fundamental values that underpin the work of our health service in Wales.”
“High-quality healthcare should be strengthened by excellent standards of governance in order to ensure the health and safety of both patients and staff are safeguarded. These principles should remain at the core of how the NHS in Wales functions on a daily basis if we are to guarantee a service that healthcare workers are proud to deliver and care that patients are grateful to receive.”
The core principles in full are:
- We put patients and users of our services first: We work with the public and patients/service users through co-production, doing only what is needed, no more, no less and trying to avoid harm. We are honest, open, empathetic and compassionate. We ensure quality and safety above all else by providing the best care at all times.
- We seek to improve our care: We care for those with the greatest health need first, making the most effective use of all skills and resources and constantly seeking to fit the care and services we provide to users’ needs. We integrate improvement into everyday working, by being open to change in all that we do, which also reduces harm and waste.
- We focus on wellbeing and prevention: We strive to improve health and remove inequities by working together with the people of Wales so as to ensure their wellbeing now and in future years and generations.
- We reflect on our experiences and learn: We invest in our learning and development. We make decisions that benefit patients and users of our services by appropriate use of the tools, systems and environments which enable us to work competently, safely and effectively. We actively innovate, adapt and reduce inappropriate variation whilst being mindful of the appropriate evidence base to guide us.
- We work in partnership and as a team: We work with individuals including patients, colleagues, and other organisations; taking pride in all that we do, valuing and respecting each other, being honest and open and listening to the contribution of others. We aim to resolve disagreements effectively and promptly and we have a zero tolerance of bullying or victimization of any patient, service user or member of staff.
- We value all who work for the NHS: We support all our colleagues in doing the jobs they have agreed to do. We will regularly ask about what they need to do their work better and seek to provide the facilities they need to excel in the care they give. We will listen to our colleagues and act on their feedback and concerns.