Changing our culture: An update from CEO Robert Morton (26th November)

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Ever since I joined the Trust I have met hundreds of staff and received many emails with your thoughts, ideas and concerns. The Trust also had a backlog of grievance and disciplinary cases which had remained opened for a long time. And of course, when the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last inspected us in 2013, they specifically commented on negative aspects of our culture in parts of the region.

Although the Trust was created in 2006, it is quite clear to me that the merger of the three former ambulance services has never been successfully implemented or enabled. This is reflected every day in work practices, concerns about crossing borders to respond to 999 calls and even staff wearing old uniform of their previous ambulance Trust.

Yet through all of this, from the vast majority of staff and managers I have met, I sense the urge to move this organisation forwards to one which provides excellent patient care and is a great place to work. An urge to change our workplace and embed a positive culture and live our new values.

This is why one of the four elements of our new strategy is focussed on staff, under the ‘our people’ banner.  This area, along with each part the strategy, is being directly influenced by your feedback and thoughts. And the current strategic objectives (the overall things we want to achieve) under ‘our people’ are:

  1. Enhance the health, safety, wellbeing and resilience of our people
  2. Continue to strive for a positive, inclusive culture
  3. Be an employer of choice in the region

Clearly the strategy will set out much more detail about how we will achieve these as it is developed, but one crucial aspect is to look at our culture given the background we have been operating within for some time. If we are going to change our culture and live our new values, we do need to precisely understand where we are now.

Therefore I am pleased that the Board today approved for the Trust to have a cultural audit. This will be a comprehensive analysis of the work atmosphere, climate, values and behaviours of the organisation, its staff and partners. You can see the full proposal that was approved by the Board on our website 

The audit, which will be carried out by an external provider, will give us a full picture of both the positive and negative aspects of our organisational culture. We will use this understanding to:

  • Enhance staff engagement, health and well-being
  • Identify and promote best practice in terms of individual and collective behaviours
  • Inform the development of leaders across the organisation
  • Support the re-calibration of partnership working
  • Support more general strategic action that is planned or being undertaken to develop the organisation and its employees.

Once an independent consultant has been appointed we will be looking to form a stakeholder steering group to drive forward the programme. Feedback will then be gathered from staff, volunteers, leaders, stakeholders and from existing sources of material such as staff surveys. This will provide us and our trade union partners a very clear understanding of the gap between the current culture and the culture we want in the future and we can then start putting in place actions to address that gap that we all collectively own. We will keep you updated through Need to Know.

Finally, as part of our staff engagement plan, we will be holding a volunteer engagement event on the 16th January 2016. Details are currently being finalised, but it will include discussions around identifying new schemes, support for CFR groups, getting feedback into our developing strategy and how we engage with CFRs going forward.

With best wishes,


Published 26th November, 2015

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