New Insights publication about Professional Support and Remediation action plans

Date published:

Today our Practitioner Performance Advice service (Advice) has published a second Insights publication focused on Professional Support and Remediation (PSR) action plans: Practitioner and healthcare organisation experiences of Professional Support and Remediation action plans.

Action plans are bespoke tailored programmes of activities with objectives, designed to address the individual development needs of practitioners within their specific role and context. They can focus on remediation, and/or supporting a practitioner’s return to work following an absence. These can be a means of aiding frontline NHS organisations to retain and support valued, experienced practitioners who need targeted assistance to deliver sustained, effective practice.

In this Insight we focus on the individual experiences of practitioners using action plans and key staff within the healthcare organisation responsible for managing and supporting plans.

Key reflections

  • Practitioners can sometimes feel anxious and frustrated at the outset of an action plan. We can alleviate this by providing practitioners clarity and reassurance on the purpose and process at an early stage.
  • Practitioners value engagement with the Advice service to enable a direct, positive impact on their own action plan. By being transparent and effectively communicating with practitioners we will help them feel supported through the process.
  • Practitioners and healthcare organisations place value on having a key contact within the Advice service to discuss the aims and delivery of the action plan. Through regular communication with practitioners and healthcare organisations over the duration of the plan we will work together to achieve successful outcomes.
  • Practitioners and healthcare organisations feel there is sufficient emphasis within our action plans on ensuring patient safety. We will continue to ensure the critical importance of patient safety is reflected in our plans and supporting information.

Why are we sharing this?

  • For healthcare organisations requesting an action plan: To better understand how practitioners may experience the process so that healthcare organisations can work with them and others involved in the plan to achieve the best possible outcome.
  • For practitioners proceeding with an action plan: To better understand the steps involved and learn from the experience of other practitioners who have already completed an action plan. This will help practitioners undergoing plans in the future to recognise how their engagement with the process can result in successful completion of a plan.
  • Continuously improving our service: We undertook this evaluation with a commitment to act upon its findings. By understanding the experience of both practitioners and healthcare organisations we can continue to refine and improve our action planning service to support practitioners to return to valued and effective practice for the benefit of patients.

Our evaluation involved semi-structured interviews with eight individual secondary care doctors and four primary and secondary healthcare organisations, covering twelve individual action plans issued between December 2019 and May 2022. Respondents provided rich detail and revealed practical options for service enhancement, that will ultimately support patient safety through our action plans.

Our review also builds on NHS Resolution’s report, Being fair 2, which illustrates how patient safety is best served when organisational culture fosters a compassionate and fair workplace. Being fair 2 describes accountability as being “about sharing what happened, and learning and being completely responsible for making changes for the future safety of staff and patients”.

Based on the experiences of individual practitioners and employers, this new report offers a chance to further understand how Professional Support and Remediation action plans are used and also how practitioners may feel about them, so that everyone involved in the plan can work together to achieve the best possible outcome. This is a must-read for employers requesting an action plan, practitioners proceeding with an action plan and those who want to understand the service better. We want to thank those who agreed to participate in this evaluation and make clear that as an organisation we are committed to refining and improving our action plan service in light of these important findings.

Sanjay Sekhri, Deputy Director of Advice and Appeals at NHS Resolution

Our resources

You can access other publications in our Insights series which covers a wide range of subjects, from behavioural assessments to practitioner exclusions.

If you are interested in hearing more about our research and insights programme, please get in touch with us at nhsr.adviceresearchandevaluation@nhs.net or sign-up to receive an alert every time we publish an Insights paper.