Deloitte finds ambulance staff felt 'voiceless and disempowered'

02 August 2018

The organisation behind NHS ambulance services in the East of England has been found to host high levels of disaffection among its staff, with many employees telling researchers at Big Four firm Deloitte that they felt “voiceless or disempowered”. In response, the Chairperson of the East of England Ambulance Trust has said the organisation is determined to address the “us and them” culture highlighted by Deloitte’s paper.

A report into East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) by professional services giant Deloitte has found that the organisation’s leadership was “cohesive” and “professional”. However, staff engagement is shockingly low, suggesting major improvements can be made to improve the standards provided by EEAST. The review, which cost EEAST a reported £50,000, was ordered to see whether the trust’s leadership was good enough to deliver “high quality, sustainable care”.

EEAST is the authority responsible for providing National Health Service (NHS) ambulance services in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, in the East of England region. During the compilation of their dossier, researchers from Deloitte discovered that while “the trust board has all the necessary foundations in place to become a high performing board and well governed trust”, there was a need for an overhaul in the trust’s approach to workplace communication. The report then alluded to high levels of disaffection among staff across the organisation.

Deloitte finds ambulance staff felt ‘voiceless and disempowered’

Further to this, the Big Four consultants found that some staff described an “us and them culture”, with the needs of staff often seen as conflicting to the will of senior leadership. This is unlikely to have been helped by the communication of decisions and new changes in the workplace, which apparently does not always reach every aspect of the organisation. As a result, Deloitte found that regional teams expressed feeling isolated from the wider organisation, while staff often noted feeling “voiceless and disempowered”.

The comprehensive review by Deloitte – recently named by the NHS as one of a group of 107 management consulting firms to assist the institution’s complex strategic, organsiation and transformational changes over the next five years – included interviews, focus groups and surveys, which were accompanied by desk research and the observing of key meetings. It also took in the opinions of internal and external stakeholders from across the organisation and across the region, alongside nearly 1,000 staff who participated in the engagement process.

During a troubled winter, which saw overcrowded hospitals come under major strain, EEAST came under mounting pressure, and it was suggested at the time that leadership had not prepared adequately. However, beyond the matter of engagement and communication, Deloitte also found that the trust was generally moving in the right direction, noting that cultural change takes many years.

Commenting on the production of Deloitte’s document, EEAST Chairperson Sarah Boulton said, “This has been an extremely worthwhile exercise, and the report and its findings will inform our future strategies and plans to provide an excellent service… We are pleased that the independent report confirms that the leadership and governance at EEAST is well placed to meet the challenges facing the trust.”

Boulton also noted that the organisation was keen to improve on the matter of staff engagement. She added, “We acknowledge that there are substantial challenges to be addressed and that the board needs to clearly focus on these challenges. Particularly we want to address as a matter of urgency the dissatisfaction among staff highlighted in the report.”

Related: Just 15% of employees are engaged. The rest lose $7 trillion in productivity.

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Arup launches VR tool to design child-friendly cities

19 February 2019

Arup has forged a new partnership with the Bernard van Leer Foundation to combine their design expertise and knowledge of child development to help improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable children. The alliance will see the consultancy include Virtual Reality testing to provide a child’s perspective on urban environments, which can be taken into account during project planning.

With the built environment needing to consider a growing diversity of requirements, it has historically been easy to overlook the needs of society’s smallest inhabitants when it comes to project planning. To help change that, design and planning consultancy Arup has teamed up with children's charity the Bernard van Leer Foundation to help designers, planners, policymakers, and development agencies improve the lives of young children in cities, informal settlements and refugee camps around the world.

The Bernard van Leer Foundation is an independent foundation working worldwide to inspire and inform large-scale action to improve the health and well-being of babies, toddlers and the people who care for them. Under the partnership, the two organisations said they hoped to combine expertise in design, planning and early childhood development to create child-friendly initiatives in urban environments. This will involve a new Virtual Reality (VR) tool as part of the initiative, which Arup says enables users to experience "a living… environment from a child's perspective at 95cm tall, the average height of a healthy three-year old."

Arup launches VR tool to design child-friendly cities

Arup's Global Cities leader, Jerome Frost, explained, "Places designed for urban childhoods are the bellwethers for healthy cities. Despite the importance of early years to our personal and social development, the experience of 0-5-year olds has largely been ignored in the design of our cities. But if we design and plan from their perspective, 95cm off the ground, the environments we create can include and bring together people of all ages."

The partnership is the latest move from the business community targeting childhood development and inclusive education, two key pillars of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Arup and the charity will kick off the project by publishing a guide in 2020 for designers, planners, city authorities, and development agencies, looking at the challenges and aspirations of young children, care-givers, and pregnant women.

Michael Feigelson, Executive Director at the Bernard van Leer Foundation, said of the partnership, "We're excited to continue to scale our work to change the way families with young children live, play, interact and move through cities by partnering with Arup, a global thought leader and trusted partner to cities around the world.”

Related: Charity football cup sees Hays consultants raise £3,000 for Action for Children.