Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust (LGT) has been shortlisted in the largest annual healthcare awards in the country.

LGT has been chosen over 1,000 entries for the Health Service Journal's (HSJ) 2020 awards thanks to a major initiative run by the trust to make it a better place to work for its 6,700 staff.

The “respect and compassion programme” was set up in early 2019 in response to staff feedback that more needed to be done to support the organisation’s workforce.

Focusing on staff engagement to "ensure our organisation values are central to everything that we do," the scheme has led to a number of landmark achievements and recognition from the national's healthcare watchdog.

These achievements include reducing vacancy levels by nearly half to under 9%, launching an equality and diversion inclusion plan, appointing mental health champions and increasing flexible working.

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LGT has been shortlisted in the “Workforce Initiative of the Year” category of the awards, named by a judging panel of influential and respected figures within the healthcare community.

The HSJ Awards, now in its 40th year, is the largest annual benchmarking and recognition programme for healthcare, using rigorous, fair and transparent judging process to produce a roll call of the best organisations, teams and people in the NHS and the wider health sector.

Ben Travis, Chief Executive of LGT, said: “We’ve been engaging with staff to ensure that our organisational values are central to everything that we do, so that all staff get the support they need. Our focus has been on listening to colleagues and focusing on the things that matter to them.

“We know that we’ve got more to do, so while it’s encouraging that we’ve been shortlisted for this award, we’ll continue work with staff to ensure that the Trust is a great place to work for everyone. This is key to our improvement journey, as we work to get it right for every patient, every time.”

The respect and compassion work has been driven by a programme board that was established in early 2019, led by LGT’s chief executive and including executive directors, trade union representatives and representatives from the organisation’s equality, diversity and inclusion network.

The Trust also established an oversight group which meets on a quarterly basis to review the work of the programme board.

The oversight panel has two independent co-chairs – Roger Kline (a leading expert on improving culture in NHS organisations), and Sir Steve Bullock (former mayor of Lewisham and an experienced chair).

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has noted significant improvements at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust since the respect and compassion programme was launched.

Achievements through the programme include:

  • Providing a one-day training course on the Trust values to leaders in the organisation – so far, over 3,700 staff (around 75% of the leaders in the organisation) have attended the training
  • Appointing wellbeing champions and mental health first aiders – nominated by staff to provide support to colleagues, LGT has appointed 150 wellbeing champions and 30 of them have received additional training to become mental health first aiders
  • Achieving accreditation for flexible working from Timewise after introducing a new flexible working policy – becoming only the second NHS trust to achieve accreditation. This was achieved after feedback that more needed to be done to enable flexible working
  • Appointing an independent speaking up service in June 2020 in response to staff feedback
  • Improving HR processes – including ensuring that the organisational values are key to appraisals
  • Launching an equality, diversity and inclusion action plan and improving the number of staff in senior roles from black, Asian, ethnic and minority groups
  • Reducing vacancy levels to under 9% - from a high of 17.5% in 2018.

Winners will be selected ahead of the ceremony, which will take place virtually in March 2021.