Improving teams in healthcare

The NHS relies on teams to design, deliver and develop world-class patient care. Effective team-working reduces medical errors, increases patient safety and improves patient mortality rates. Crucially, it also leads to reduced stress and higher job satisfaction.

What we are doing

Last year, the RCP published Being a junior doctor: Experiences from the front line of the NHS. The report highlighted trainees’ low morale and feelings of disengagement, in part caused by the breakdown of the medical team. The Improving teams in healthcare resources are the RCP’s response to these concerns, aiming to promote high-functioning teams in the clinical setting. These resources are an amalgamation of evidence, case studies and practical guidance. They are designed to be of practical use to all members of the healthcare team whether a medical student, junior doctor, physician associate or medical director.

This work builds upon the experience and expertise of RCP members and was informed by our roundtable event. This included doctors of all career grades, as well as a wide range of professionals and representatives of royal colleges and arms-length bodies.

The experience that healthcare staff have at work is crucial not only to their own wellbeing, but also to how they care for their patients. Staff and patient wellbeing are inextricably linked, and research shows that how staff feel at, and about, their work is the precursor to good patient experience. We at The Point of Care Foundation are delighted to collaborate in this work, and recommend it to all health care professionals, not only doctors: in particular its emphasis on supporting and valuing each other within teams. Through our Schwartz Rounds programme we know that staff value the sense of working together towards the same goals, and we also endorse, as this work does, the importance of fostering an open and transparent culture where mistakes can be acknowledged and success celebrated.

Jocelyn Cornwell, chief executive, The Point of Care Foundation

Next steps

Healthcare teams will continue to evolve as the practice and delivery of medicine evolves, and we welcome any feedback or suggestions for further work. The RCP will be working with Health Education England to implement some of the recommendations in these resources, as well as creating further resources to assist team education and development of the inter-professional modern medical team.

This work has been carried out in conjunction with the RCP patient and carer network, RCP trainees committee and RCP new consultants committee.

What we have produced

A resource on the three core factors that determine the working of ‘good’ healthcare teams: effective leadership and governance, clear roles and responsibilities, and supportive team dynamics.
Advice on healthcare team culture - defined as the ‘rules’ and beliefs that team members hold, that influence how the group interacts and does its work.
The third resource in the Improving teams in healthcare series presents some of the worrying literature on the impacts of insufficient communication.
The fourth resource in the Improving teams in healthcare series explains why team development is such an integral part of efficient working.