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Paul Deemer: VFM - Values for Motivation

Tuesday 18 August 2015

The values based approach is at the core of recruitment and leadership planning in the NHS. Staff feeling valued provides greater value for money for taxpayers, and increases productivity and efficiency in the workforce.


Paul Deemer

Paul Deemer is Head of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights at NHS Employers. Prior to joining the NHS he held roles in local government, the voluntary sector and the health service.

Paul Deemer

During the recent general election there was (as always) a lot of talk about Britishness, British values and what it means to be British. Indeed that debate still rages on and intermittently raises its head in various ways - some more constructive than others. In a similar way, there was much talk (as always) about the NHS and what the political parties would or wouldn't do to improve it, change it or make it more efficient.

At the same time, what the election also showed us was just how much the British public value and cherish the NHS. The idea that everybody - regardless of class, colour or creed - is able to access free health care at anytime, anywhere in the UK, is a fundamental principle that we now all hold dear and want to retain.

Alongside both of these things, the election unfortunately also threw up huge challenges for the country on the equality and inclusion front in the form of debates about immigration and the plight of disabled people in relation to cuts to the welfare budget. These debates again brought out the best and worst in people in my view - often polarising the various factions.

I mention this because NHS managers work and operate within this context every day - and have to balance and juggle these dilemmas on top of their day-to-day operational challenges. What helps them do that is a values based approach - which emanates from the NHS Constitution. This most often manifests itself in the form of values based recruitment and values based leadership (see links for more info).

Some people will argue against the merits of this approach - and perhaps even point to the instances of dismissals and poor practice which suggest it doesn't work. But I want to highlight the millions of day-to-day interactions within the NHS that do work: where staff go to work because they feel valued - and leave work having added value. Places like Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust who - along with 118 other NHS organisations - were listed in the recent Best Places to Work List 2015.

As Acas has pointed out in the recent report on Building Productivity in the UK, organisations which understand that valuing staff increases productivity are able to increase efficiency and create greater value for money for the taxpayer. The simple equation: VFM = VFM. Values for motivation = value for money.  

Three recent Acas guides on Equality and Diversity:

  • Equality and discrimination: understand the basics
  • Prevent discrimination: support equality
  • Discrimination: what to do if it happens 

Read other blogs

Sarah Veale, TUC: Diversity guidance and support

Steve Williams: The four principles of equality in workplaces

Audrey Williams: Help is at hand for small business owners to manage equality and diversity issues in the workplace


Add a comment+
  • Posted by Dr Umesh Prabhu  |  18 August 2015, 7:22PM

    My sincere apology Paul. You did mention our Trust. I do hope my details help others to look at how we transformed the Trust and gives some details about our success.

    Important is to define values, culture by engaging staff and to appoint values based leaders and excellent governance.

  • Posted by Dr Umesh Prabhu  |  18 August 2015, 4:42PM

    It is a shame that Paul did not even mention Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWLFT')s huge success in recruiting value based leaders and huge benefit to patients, staff and the Trust. In 2010 I joined the Trust as the MD and with the support of CEO and the Trust Board we defined our values, culture by robust staff engagement and we appointed values based leaders and put robust governance with excellent staff and patient engagement.

    Today, 450 more patients survive, all 22 quality measurements have improved, we have 280 patient safety champions, got 28 awards including HSJ the best provider Trust of the year and voted as the second best Trust to work in the country! I am still not sure why the Director of NHS Equality and Diversity fails to mention our Trust in spite of knowing the Trust’s success so well. Today, in WWLFT 50% of medical leaders are BME and 20% are women! They were no appointed because of their race or gender but for their values. The success of our Trust is simply due to our amazing staff and wonderful value based leaders, culture and governance.

    Of course we are not perfect and with 4500 staff I doubt we will ever be perfect but we got right values, right culture and right leaders and robust governance and accountability and may be time is right for NHS Employers, NHS Confederation, NHS England and even the Director of Equality and Diversity to start telling the story so that others can learn. If I say this some senior leaders comment ‘He would say that wouldn’t he’. It is the benefit to patients, staff and the Trust which makes me proud.