GTP20: Caring for our staff

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce as part of the 2020 Growth Through People campaign.

Growth Through People is the Chamber’s annual campaign aiming to help local firms boost productivity and grow through improved leadership and people management skills. In 2020 this involves 8 free workshops taking place between 2nd March and 27th March, culminating in a full-day Growth Through People conference on 2nd April. In addition, throughout the campaign the Chambers will be publishing thought leadership podcasts, videos and blog content such as this.

Thanks to our Headline Sponsors – Prime Accountants Group, Aston University, Curium Solutions and CIPD - all workshops are free to attend. Interested readers can find out more and register to attend Growth Through People workshops here, and the Growth Through People conference here.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) is one of the largest NHS Trusts in the country, employing over 20,000 staff and treating over 2.8 million people per year. We have more than 2,700 beds across all our sites with the main hospital services being based at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Solihull Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and other services based at Birmingham Chest Clinic and Solihull community health premises.

Domestic abuse is so prevalent in our society it will affect a significant number of our staff across the full disciplines and they in turn will be in contact with many adults and children who are affected. It will touch each and everyone one of us in some shape or form and affects every aspect of their life including their performance and attendance in work.

We are creating a whole systems approach so that staff experiencing domestic  abuse get the support that they need in a safe place where they will be believed, not judged, not treated with stigma or shame or managed accordingly. We want to make every contact count to ensure that the right information is provided safely in the right format at the right time. This will help to ensure informed, safe, supported and appropriate choices can be made.

Responding to disclosures of domestic abuse can be complex and challenging though and needs to be managed well and safely. The Trust is working with Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid and other agencies to develop a service to support staff including employing Independent Domestic Violence Advocates (IDVAs) to work with us in our hospitals.

We aim to create safe/neutral spaces in our hospitals where our staff can seek assistance from external professional bodies. We plan to use our premises to host DA organisations so people can use the hospital visit or appointment (whether real or not) as an opportunity to seek advice. This provides free premises to social sector colleagues and embeds the host organisation in the minds of the community as a safe place to go and ally. In addition we have geographical spread and established transport links to facilitate attendance in case of coercion and control. We are working closely will our security staff colleagues to deliver safety planning, advice and issue personal alarms. Confidential support is provided by our  occupational health and staff counselling services.

HR colleagues are addressing potential shortcomings in gaps in employment and periods where employment history has not demonstrated the true level of achievement that might have been possible. We will begin to explore options to bring victims of DA into work, providing independence and a non-judgemental workplace. With geographical spread of workplaces across the city we should be able to offer employment away from areas of potential risk. We are revisiting our current HR policies and processes around performance and sickness and absence.

We are working with providers to look at ways that we can support staff to have independent savings and financial freedom, reviewing all of our Trust accommodation to support emergency housing, staff counselling services  and are able to access our in house food and clothing banks.

Through the Trusts commitment of building healthier lives and our staff’s well-being strategy we are committed to bring this silent epidemic out of the shadows and aim to begin to deliver on this vast and important agenda.

Debby Edwards
Project Lead Nurse - Domestic Abuse
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust