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A future vision for the NHS: a supportive culture

How do we create a supportive working culture in which doctors and staff feel able to provide safe, quality care for patients? 

We are five years on from the Francis and Berwick reports, which recognised the need for fundamental change and a move away from a culture of blame towards a culture of learning. Yet these issues persist. Most recently the Dr Bawa-Garba High Court case brought into sharp focus the difficult and pressurised conditions in which medical professionals work, and the impact this can have on both doctor and patient.

There has been some action to address culture, which has largely focused on developing values, governance and leadership. But there has been a lack of impact on the ground. Despite some progress having been made, top-down targets and financial performance still dominate and issues for staff are ongoing from raising concerns and individual accountability versus learning from errors and addressing system failure, to bullying and harassment and recognising diversity and ensuring equality of opportunity.

These are the barriers to creating a culture that encourages professionals to work together more effectively to deliver high quality, safe care for patients. We will explore with members what a supportive and learning culture would look like, and what action is needed to improve it.

Find out more about the BMA's ongoing work into how doctors can be supported when working in a system under pressure.

Find out more about the BMA's work on NHS culture.


Get involved

As part of the Caring, supportive, collaborative project we’ve now started a conversation with doctors across the country through a series of local engagement events. These events give doctors an opportunity to contribute their views to our collective vision for the future of the NHS. 

The events focus on the themes of the project:

  • Culture - How do we create a supportive working culture in which doctors and staff feel able to provide safe, quality care for patients? 
  • WorkforceHow would you reduce the system pressures on doctors and increase retention?  
  • Collaboration and structureHow could leaders in the NHS create an environment where doctors are incentivised to work across the interface between primary and secondary care? 

If you have a view on any of these questions, please share it with us at [email protected].

We want to develop positive and workable solutions, and this takes bold thinking. Your contributions will be vital in driving this project forward, to help us create a future vision of the NHS that is caring, supportive and collaborative.

Further information on the project is available here

Find details of upcoming Caring, supportive, collaborative events here