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Penny Campling

Penny Campling: Is the Francis Report part of the problem?

20 Jun, 13 | by BMJ

There seems to be a growing attitude that the Francis Report will not result in any great change. No doubt there will be a few worthy policies generated—although the amount of linked documentation is as likely to distract and irritate as it is to inspire more attentive caring. But any hope that it will be looked back on as a watershed event, a catalyst that inspired real change, seems to be increasingly fanciful. more…

Penny Campling: The last thing the NHS needs is a compassion “pill”

13 May, 13 | by BMJ

Reading the Francis Report for many of us is like looking in a mirror. The mirror is at an angle, magnifying the perversities in the picture, but it is all recognisable. We see our NHS reflected back at us, the NHS in England in the early years of the 21st Century.

As the weeks since it was launched pass and the Francis Report fades rather too rapidly from the news headlines, there is little cause for cheer and much to dishearten. True, the concept of compassionate care is being bandied around in evangelical fashion and squeezed into every document possible. But frankly, there is an Orwellian touch to the way the word is being used and a real danger that the concept will be rendered trite and meaningless. Over the last few weeks, I have listened to an operating department assistant describe how he was dragged away from looking after a patient three times by an anxious manager wanting him to amend a form ticking boxes saying he was providing compassionate care to the patient; I have heard someone from the workforce planning department moaning about how busy he was having to amend job descriptions to include the word compassionate; and I have been approached by someone in medical education asking me to invent some exam questions that tested for compassion! more…

Penny Campling: How will shame play out in the wake of the Francis report?

19 Feb, 13 | by BMJ Group

One word that keeps being used in response to the Francis report into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust is “shame.”  Interestingly, it seems to be used more than “guilt” and most certainly more than “remorse.”  This is worrying because shame is particularly hard to process, an emotion that typically lurks around in individuals and organisations, making change and healing more difficult.  more…

Penny Campling: What does apologising for a dysfunctional culture really mean?

11 Feb, 13 | by BMJ

The Francis Inquiry report rightly focuses on the need to transform the healthcare culture. It has made it clear that fault lines run throughout the NHS, from top to bottom, and that the inhumanity exposed at Mid Staffordshire is not restricted to that locality. The huge number of recommendations in the report (290) is presumably an attempt to capture the breadth, depth, and complexity of change that needs to occur. No quick fix this time. more…

Penny Campling: Thoughts on a healthcare culture—part 4

7 Sep, 12 | by BMJ

An important aspect of my job as a clinical director was acting as a buffer between the ever increasing number of new policy initiatives gathering in the system at large and the clinical staff I managed. I took the view that front line staff do work that is demanding—intellectually and emotionally—and need to be distracted from this as little as possible. Of course, there were new initiatives that I felt would directly or indirectly improve patient care and these we discussed and implemented as best we could; but the majority were peripheral to the task in hand and despite their tone of urgency, many would fade away if I ignored them for long enough. Indeed many of them would originate from different parts of the system and would directly contradict each other—for example, the attempt to dictate the percentage of time staff spent in direct contact time with patients and the ever increasing expectation to attend new mandatory trainings and other meetings. more…

Penny Campling: Thoughts on a healthcare culture—part 3

28 Aug, 12 | by BMJ Group

Why do good staff become bad? This seems a particularly pertinent question for those of us interested in healthcare in the aftermath of Mid Staffordshire, Winterbourne View, and the repeated and deeply depressing glugs of distasteful information coming through about our callousness towards the elderly. There is certainly no evidence that healthcare staff are more or less psychopathic than the general population, yet the ordinary person in the street is horrified and bemused by the vivid descriptions of neglect and cruelty that abound. more…

Penny Campling: Thoughts on a healthcare culture—part 2

3 Aug, 12 | by BMJ

I recently attended a symposium at the Tavistock Clinic entitled Cultures of Care: Cruelty and Kindness. As the Tavistock is a psychoanalytic institution, there was a lot of focus on understanding the problem and the discussion was complex and challenging with the shameful examples of Mid-Staffordshire, Winterbourne View and the Care Quality Commission’s report on the elderly to keep us grounded in reality. more…

Penny Campling: Thoughts on healthcare culture

27 Jul, 12 | by BMJ

How many of us feel the culture in the NHS brings out the best in us? Judging from the majority of staff surveys, not many.

I happen to think this matters enormously. Staff really are the greatest asset to any organisation, especially an organisation where caring is a fundamental part of the task. Creating the conditions within which they can thrive and attend to patients is vital. It seems we pay lip service to this obvious truth, but undermine the few positive initiatives around, with a relentless, unthinkingly applied “more for less” philosophy, out of touch top down management, and knee-jerk reactions to risk that result in a level of entangling bureaucracy not so far removed from the Politburo. more…

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