Living our local values

Background to the project

A considerable amount of work has been done since 2006 on researching and analysing what matters to patients, the public and staff as a major contribution to gaining greater clarity and coherence around the next stage of the NHS transformation journey.

The emergence of a refreshed set of NHS-wide values supporting a renewed purpose and vision for the NHS in its 60th year has been part of a wider review by Lord Darzi looking at the future model for healthcare across the NHS in England.

Much of the early insight work on values was founded on the recognition that it is important to be able to articulate a set of key beliefs that are important to users of the service and staff working in the NHS. A set of words that effectively captures how we do things across the NHS that resonates emotionally and leads to appropriate behaviours from all concerned.

A social research organisation was commissioned in December 2007 to take this insight and, over a four month period, engage staff and patients across the country and the service to surface and express values based on the work done over the preceding 18 months.

By the end of March 2008, these emerging NHS-wide values had been fine-tuned and framed in a way that resonated for all stakeholder groups.

As our healthcare system becomes increasingly devolved, autonomous and entrepreneurial, there is a need for system-wide values, which reaffirm the social purpose of the NHS, to staff, patients and the public and inspire and enable behaviours that put the needs of patients, staff and the public foremost in people’s minds.

For these values to have meaning and impact, they must be developed and owned locally, but congruent with the principles that underpin the NHS as a whole. To support local NHS organisations in surfacing and embedding their values, it is important that ‘umbrella’ system-wide values are set out. We have therefore been working with groups of patients, staff and the public across the country to surface NHS-wide values that are relevant for a 21st Century NHS.

The NHS-wide values can be used by organisations and teams who have not previously adopted statements of values, and encourage them to develop their own values with the full participation of their staff, or used to help local leaders to make their values come alive through improvements for patients and staff. Any organisation working within, or for, the NHS – be it a commissioner, a private provider, a Foundation Trust or an NHS Trust – is likely to have a set of locally determined values that are congruent with the final set of NHS values.

It was agreed by the Values Programme Board at the DH as part of the NHS Next Stage Review led by Lord Darzi, to test the impact of the emerging NHS-wide values on a small number of representative organisations.

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