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Home > News > July 2004 > 09-Jul-2004

Guy's and St Thomas' run diversity action-planning sessions

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trust has run a series of diversity action-planning sessions for its Board/management executive and for over 100 senior managers, clinicians and professional staff from its 11 directorates. The sessions were designed and facilitated by executive education and research organisation, Roffey Park.

"In the past, diversity had been HR-led and we wanted to mainstream it throughout the organisation," said Carolyn Norgate, the Trust’s Head of Training and Development. "We knew it would take more than chance or goodwill to put these aims into practice, so we decided to develop annual action plans for each directorate to cascade the strategy throughout the organisation."

Five external providers, including training consultancies and business schools, tendered for a project to facilitate the action-planning process.

"We chose Roffey Park because they have a level of expertise and knowledge around diversity and a very facilitative, non-prescriptive approach," said Carolyn Norgate.

Roffey Park undertook a series of individual and group interviews, with selected members of staff, to uncover people’s experiences of working within the Trust. From these interviews, Roffey Park’s consultants developed a series of scripted scenarios and worked with a company of actors to create five characters, who could provide a ‘talking heads’ perspective of diversity, either as a patient or a member of staff.

Two consultants then ran a half-day session for 20 members of the Trust’s Board and its management executive, which includes the Chief Executive, Chairman, non-executive Directors, corporate Directors and Clinical Directors. At this session, four actors came in to tell the stories of four of the ‘characters’. Roffey Park’s two consultants then worked with the group to help them set priorities and develop a diversity action plan for the whole organisation.

"The session went very well and it demonstrated that the most senior group in the organisation were taking this issue seriously," said Carolyn Norgate. "By the end, the group had successfully defined and developed the diversity priorities for the year."

Roffey Park then delivered 12 half-day sessions for senior managers, clinicians and professional staff in the Trust’s directorates. Called Diversity Planning Sessions, these followed a similar format and were delivered in-house, for groups of up to 20 at a time.

Rather than organising actors to present each time, Roffey Park made a video of all five ‘characters’ telling their stories. Following the video - and using the context of what had been successful in the past - each directorate group developed an action plan of what they needed to address in order to take diversity forward.

"We used the sessions to communicate some of the really good work we’ve done around diversity and to motivate people to continue this," said Carolyn Norgate. "The sessions raised some stand-out issues around the barriers to diversity as well as the areas that we can improve and build on. The Trust as a whole has benefited from the much wider engagement of staff on this issue."

Guy’s and St Thomas’ is now working on a Future Service Strategy to further develop its services over the next five-ten years.

"Our aim is to deliver culturally-sensitive healthcare that is focused around the needs and preferences of our patients so that, in the context of Patient Choice, they choose to come and have their treatment here," said Carolyn Norgate. "The action-planning sessions had a considerable impact and they’ve certainly helped us to prepare to meet some of the future challenges. We now consider diversity and its implications in all aspects relating to our services, our communication and our hospital environments."

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