17 March 2017

Happy staff; happy patient Dr Umesh Prabhu, Medical Director, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Prabhu talks about how a supportive workplace can help health and social care staff to provide better care for their patients

Approximately 1.3 million people work in the NHS. They provide health and social care for nearly 360 million people every year.

The vast majority of patients receive safe, compassionate care. However, sadly, an estimated 20,000 people will die every year due to ‘medical errors’. And some of these will be caused by human- error, which may be a result of overworked staff.

With increasing pressure and further financial challenges looming, what can we do to make sure standards do not fall? How do we make sure our patients are safe?

I believe we need to focus on staff happiness and wellbeing. We need to support each other better so that we can take care of ourselves and our patients.

Establishing a strong leadership team who are well-prepared to weather challenges can create a supportive and nurturing working environment.

Leaders who can inspire and make staff feel valued, create strong teams. They can help them to be proud of their work, which will maintain efforts during the difficult times and amidst negative headlines.

In our Trust, we found that by reinforcing a culture of patient safety and promoting staff happiness we could reduce ‘medical errors’ by 90%. 

If others approached their workplace in the same way, I think this would help us all to provide better care for the people who need us, our patients and their loved ones.


  • Dr Parhbu delivers Very motivational talks whenever I have heard him.
    He has inspired me as a medical leader and his vision is extraordinary !!!! I felt that happy staff is the way forward to meet huge demands and pressures on NHS. We do remember our patients and quality of service but we often forget the providers of that service. Through out my career he is the only I know who talks about staff !!!
    The only thing I want to add is to look into workload of doctors!!!! It's something that can affect quality of service they provide.
    Thank you 😊

  • Agree absolutely. Unfortunately, in my experience of working within the NHS, Dr Prabhu's way of thinking is confined to such a small minority of NHS Managers that they find themselves swimming against the tide and thus ineffectual.

  • I think your comments in part highlight the impact of a top heavy management organisation and its impact on the people who work in it. Feeling that there is always a new team and a higher power that will understand the problem better then those at the front line has dis empowered a highly intelligent and motivated work force. Looking after staff to me and promoting happiness is one of the easiest tasks that we face in the NHS I feel, when we are faced by so many difficult matters. We have to start by respecting each other at all levels within the organisation and helping people to believe that we have control over how we make each other feel and the level of support that we deliver.

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