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How to make improvements in NHS

    The King’s Fund (2012). Leadership and engagement for improvement in the NHS: together we can. London: The King’s Fund. Available at:

    The report argued that a new style of leadership was needed if the NHS was going to rise to the challenges it faces. Leadership must be shared and distributed, less reliant on heroic individuals and much more the property of teams and organisations. Effective leaders need to work through others to achieve their objectives, motivating and engaging followers and working across organisations and systems to deliver the transformational improvements on which the health care system of the future depends.

    The changes needed in the NHS to implement the reforms must happen at scale and pace. They will require leaders who cultivate a strong culture of engagement for patients and staff and who deploy a range of leadership styles and behaviours. The NHS Commissioning Board and Leadership Academy have a key role to play in developing existing and future leaders and embedding an engagement culture across the system. Equally important is the responsibility of every NHS organisation to value and support leadership and engagement in delivering its objectives.

    As this report shows, there is strong evidence that leaders who engage staff, patients and others deliver better results on a range of measures. The business case for leadership and engagement for improvement is compelling at a time when the NHS needs to deliver unprecedented efficiency savings over many years.

    NHS Improvement (2012). First steps towards quality improvement : a simple guide to improving services. Leicester : NHS Improvement. Available at

    Patients and their carers are the reason the health service exists and therefore they should be at the heart of our services.

    Service improvement and redesign generates opportunities to involve users and their carers who can provide a different perspective to enable a better understanding of whether our improvements make any difference.

    A patient’s experience of our service can be very different to what we intend or assume it to be and they can tell us what works, what doesn’t and what could be done better. We might ‘know’ we are doing a good job, but it needs to meet the patient’s requirements.

    Only when we understand a patient’s needs – by asking them, not second guessing – can we work in a way that meets those needs and ensures they get maximum benefit from our service.

    Save our NHS A guide to lobbying: Available at:

    Lobbying is about raising issues with and seeking to influence your elected representatives. You don’t need to be an expert on the so-called NHS ‘reforms’ to tell your MP you are against the changes. Your MP will see you as a constituent and as such is meant to represent your interests even if he/she does not agree with them. Meeting your MP face-to-face at one of their constituency surgeries is a great way to raise the profile of the Save our NHS campaign.