Launch of Just and learning culture charter

Date published:

In April, we launched our Just and learning culture charter. This has been designed to help organisations in the health system take a fair, compassionate and consistent approach towards staff in relation to incidents and errors. It is underpinned by a belief in the value of adopting a more reflective and just approach to learning from incidents.

The charter has its origins in our first Being fair publication from 2019 and was featured in our recent Being fair 2 report. Both posit that a just and learning culture is the balance of fairness, justice, learning – and taking responsibility for actions. It is not about seeking to blame the individuals involved when care in the NHS goes wrong. It is also not about an absence of responsibility and accountability. The charter outlines the key features of a person-centred workplace that is compassionate, safe and fair. These include staff wellbeing, accountability, leadership and inclusivity.

The charter was developed in partnership with other organisations from across the healthcare system, including the CQC, GMC, NMC and others. Through a workshop, we were able to discuss the important elements that make an organisation just and fair when responding to incidents. We analysed the themes that came out of the discussion and grouped them under 10 key headings: these make up the components of the charter.

We accept the evidence, referenced in our two Being fair resources, that the NHS will provide safer care and be a healthier place to work if we address all of the components of a learning organisation. We hope that our interactive charter will be used in organisations as a tool for the adoption of a just and learning culture, thus creating a safer and healthier workplace for staff and fostering an environment that allows for the consistent delivery of person-centred, safe and sustainable healthcare.

NHS Resolution’s Being fair 2 report aims to provide organisations with the encouragement and support required to improve workforce culture. The report includes a just and learning culture charter which organisations are encouraged to adopt. It is a framework that aims to support organisations to take action to ensure person-centred workplaces that are compassionate, safe and fair.

Naomi Assame, Head of Safety and Learning, NHS Resolution

Being fair 2, and the just and learning culture charter that accompanies it, will help organisations promote a workplace that is compassionate, safe and fair – benefitting both their staff and the patients they care for.

Dr, Sean O’Kelly, Chief Inspector of Healthcare, Care Quality Commission

Recent years have seen a growing evidence base linking organisational culture, and the behaviours it enables or incentivises, and patient care. One aspect of this is whether organisations and individual managers respond when things don’t go as planned. Initiatives such as the ‘Just culture’ movement seek to emphasise learning not blame when things go wrong. The use of accountability nudges at the point of incident have helped to reduce biased decisions to disproportionately investigate ethnic minority groups when incidents occur.

Roger Kline OBE, Research Fellow at Middlesex University Business School and one of the authors of Being Fair 2