The value of respect: an update from Lindsey Stafford-Scott, Director of People and Culture

Lindsey Stafford Scott   web

We have a very clear set of values and I see them demonstrated every day when I interact with our staff and volunteers.

The value of respect is particularly relevant right now.  I have a huge respect for the people within EEAST and their dedication and commitment never ceases to leave me humbled.

That is why I am appalled by negative media stories like one published in the Daily Mail discussing technicians. The language is designed to create a negative reaction and suggests technicians arriving at an incident means patients are less likely to receive the best treatment compared to a paramedic. It is written with a serious lack of understanding and insight and demonstrates a complete lack of respect of technicians and the pivotal role they play in delivering care to patients. 

We responded publicly to rebuff such disrespectful reporting and want to restate that as a Trust we are incredibly proud of our technicians and their competency, as well as the care they provide to our patients, saving lives every day.

We are also not willing to tolerate the lack of respect shown to our staff by members of the public. This is why this week we launched a new campaign to highlight the problem of abuse against staff.  Don’t Choose to Abuse shines a spotlight on the verbal and physical abuse our operational and EOC colleagues face on a daily basis. 

To support the campaign and spread the message far and wide, you can sign-up to a social media synchronised Thunderclap, which will post the Don’t Choose to Abuse message on your social media tomorrow (1st December). Just visit https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/64517-don-t-choose-to-abuse

I’d also urge staff who feel comfortable to share your experiences on social media using #Don’tChoosetoAbuse hashtag. The campaign is built on the experiences of our staff and I have huge respect for those who have been open and shared their often harrowing experiences. Please also remember, help and support is available from our wellbeing team for anyone who feels they or their colleagues may need it.

Respect for women is a topic close to my heart and very current in light of recent scandals across the globe and in major institutions.  The All Women in EEAST Group (AWE) has led the call for the Trust to pledge their support to the White Ribbon campaign against gender based violence. 

On 25th November, the world marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day. From then until 10th December, we are encouraging everybody to take part in the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence; please sign up or do something to promote the campaign.  If you do take part let us know and we’ll promote your activity. For ideas see http://www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk/makepledge.  

Our AWE group has also been busy working with fire and police colleagues to explore challenges faced by women in uniformed services and how we can work together to raise awareness and improve working lives.

We will be running a joint event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 on 8th March at Chelmsford Race Course.  The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 is Press for Progress and we have identified three sub-themes for our day: challenging stereotypes, mentoring and collaboration. 

Attendees will hear speakers and enjoy activities including speed mentoring, a JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme) exercise and a then and now session where women speak about their experiences in their organisation in the past and now. 

Tickets haven’t been released yet but we will let you know when you can grab yours.

We are looking for volunteers from women in the ambulance service - one with 25 to 30 years’ experience and one from current – to talk about your experiences over the years of what it is like to be a woman in this service. Could you be that person or do you know someone with a story to tell?  If so please email me, we’d love to have you involved. 

Respect also means being open to the views of others and listening and acting on those views.  As a Trust we know our people have brilliant insight on what works, what doesn’t and what we could do to make things better.

We are developing engagement initiatives to capture valuable insight and knowledge.  We have an engagement strategy and will be launching our first employee engagement forum in early 2018 which will be open to all staff and aims to provide the Trust with a new way to listen to our people directly.

In the meantime we are continuing to deliver against what you told us in the cultural audit and NHS staff survey.  Actions include:

  • Leadership Development Programmes; we know from our Celebration of Learning Event just how much those on these programmes have made a difference locally
  • a new appraisal process; feedback so far tells us you like the focus on compassionate leadership, wellbeing and personal development
  • flexible working; we are putting this at the heart of recruitment and restructures
  • talent management; we are launching new transparent recruitment and selection processes based on merit and people’s commitment to continuous professional development
  • violence and aggression; (with a renewed focus on patient facing conflict resolution and a Trust wide campaign on bullying and harassment, encouraging professional behaviours, informal resolution and a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviours at every level. 

It is important to talk about the mutual trust and respect needed between the Trust and its recognised trade union. In recent years we have seen a deterioration in these relationships.  That’s why we launched the ACAS supported partnership review in April. 

We have acknowledged the difficulties elsewhere and have responded positively to the requests from our staff to be open and transparent and spell out the issues.  

We continue to work with UNISON and ACAS on the partnership review to develop a relationship of mutual respect. I am confident we can make the progress needed to avoid unnecessary distractions and negative publicity, all of which detract from our ability to achieve greater investment in the Trust and deliver better patient services and an improved life for staff.

Ultimately I believe respect has to be earned.  As a Trust, the respect we have across the health sector and wider community has been well earned by all of you and I am proud to defend that reputation and the well placed respect for our service.

Finally, I’d like to share my absolute respect for NQP Becky Whitelock who came and spoke about her experience as a student paramedic with EEAST at our Trust public board meeting.  Her openness and honesty about the highs and lows of her experience, what we do well and what we can improve on was so refreshing.  Thanks Becky for overcoming your fear of public speaking.

Lindsey

Published 30th November 2017

 

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