Embedding Mediation in the NHS
Conflicts at work can be stressful, but in the healthcare industry, they can be even more complicated. That is why University College London Hospital’s Mediation Coordinator, Jenny Owen, is making strides to embed mediation in the NHS. Her team provides conflict coaching, mediation, and training for staff to create a culture of kindness where conflicts can be resolved quickly and compassionately.
However, real change requires deep structural changes to create a safe reporting environment. Read the article to learn more about the importance of creating a blame-free culture in the NHS.
BY VICTORIA HARRIS AND JENNY OWEN
Jenny Owen, the Mediation Co Ordinator at University College London Hospital, reports that at UCLH there is a busy and thriving service to support staff to restore relationships quickly and compassionately when tension or conflict occurs.
Jenny adds that the service ‘provides conflict coaching, mediation and training for teams and managers in communication, to foster a culture of kindness which is especially important to negate the dangers of toxic or fear based working cultures.’
Jenny was appointed in April 2022 as the Mediation Coordinator for UCLH, responsible for delivering mediations, implementing a one-to-one conflict coaching scheme, supporting the 15 newly trained staff mediators in gaining confidence and skill in their roles, and educating staff across the Trust about the benefits of mediation.
Whilst this was a big task in itself, she reports that the job has become so much more. ‘I joined the Trust at an opportune moment. Pre-pandemic funding had enabled a small group of staff to attend training in Restorative Just Cultures in the NHS and this has allowed me to contribute to policy development and communications across the Trust, all aimed at creating a culture where constructive responses to conflict are embedded. With a background in supporting schools to implement Restorative Just Cultures, I am aware of the deep structural change that is needed to support real staff wellbeing.’
Jenny adds, ‘Mediation is an invaluable resource but can only scratch the surface if policies aren’t put in place which genuinely lead people away from a blame and finger pointing culture that inhibits transparent, safe reporting and creates the kind of climate that hospitals need to avoid. These changes are starting to happen but in a huge and complex system like the NHS, where UCLH alone has over 10,000 staff members, it takes time, resources and the support of external networks like the CMC to embed real change.’
As a mediator, conflict resolution coach and educator Jenny has always believed in the power of communication to transform lives. She is currently working within the NHS to help staff members and teams navigate conflict and build communication skills, creating opportunities for effective team-working, stronger relationships and greater resilience and understanding.
With over 10 years professional mediation experience and a background in sixth form education and non-violent communication, Jenny is familiar with navigating conflict and tension. If anything, she is excited by the opportunity it can create for greater understanding and richer relationships.