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Can NHS organisations become more mindful?

26-February-2013 0:00
in General
by Dr. Jenny King

In my previous blog I talked about mindfulness in clinicians: the ability to be self-aware, attentive and curious about their own feelings, attitudes and behaviour, and to notice and question those of others in order to make more balanced and accurate judgements. Individuals can learn to become more mindful and thereby improve their effectiveness, productivity and well being. But what about organisations? How can we help NHS organisations to become more corporately mindful?


Mindfulness was clearly missing at every level at the time of the appalling events at Stafford Hospital and, as it now turns out, many other hospitals as well. Just like George Entwhistle at the BBC who was nicknamed “incurious George” because he failed to see what was right in front of him when the Savile affair was exposed, managers and Board members in several hospitals have proved similarly incurious and inattentive – at least, about the things that really mattered for patient safety and care. There was in effect a corporate mindlessness that led to self-deception; denial of uncomfortable facts; preoccupation with self-protection; and a detachment from the realities of the situation in areas that should have mattered most.


So how do you teach institutions and organisations to become more corporately mindful? How do Boards become more curious, attentive, and focussed on the here and now? If the future looks uncertain we risk neglecting the present and seeing what is right under our nose. The warning signs of future trouble are all too evident in so many clinical teams, but we need to be paying attention now, before the signs become symptoms and the disease develops.


If you have ideas on this, Edgecumbe would like to start a debate. Please send your blogs or ideas to us : jenny.king@edgecumbe.co.uk

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