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Culture change main focus for new Health Department head

Culture change main focus for new Health Department head

Friday 31 March 2023

Culture change main focus for new Health Department head

Friday 31 March 2023

Ensuring staff are listened to and valued will be a driving force behind a much-needed cultural turnaround within the Health Department, the new interim Chief Officer has said.

Allegations of bullying, cronyism and poor senior governance have plagued the department for a number of years – with several key reports documenting a catalogue of failings.

Earlier this month, director general for health Caroline Landon and chief nurse Rose Naylor both unexpectedly resigned at short notice amid further allegations of major cultural problems within the department.


Pictured: Chief Nurse Rose Naylor and Chief Officer of Health and Community Services Caroline Landon both finished their roles this week.

Chris Bown, who was initially brought to the Island as part of a ‘change team’ to tackle some of the problems highlighted in those reports, has since been appointed on a temporary 12-month basis as Chief Officer to replace Ms Landon.

And, while he admitted that it would take more than a year to fully address the deep-routed cultural problems within Health, Mr Bown said that his priority is to put the department in the “right direction”.

“There is clearly a need to improve the culture of the organisation – that is well known,” he said.

“The need to ensure that staff are listened to, that they feel valued and engaged is important because we know – and there is plenty of evidence which suggests this – that poor morale has a negative impact on patient care and it is therefore critical that we improve the culture of our organisation.”

He added that “morale needs to improve” and that “Jersey has been subject to a number of critical reports [and] those issues have to be addressed”.

Last year, a report by Professor Hugo Mascie-Taylor made a string of findings regarding the running of the Health Department and made 61 recommendations for improvements.

Mr Bown added: “The reason I am happy to be interim Chief Officer for the next 12 months is to get HCS pointing in a the right direction.

“Transformation into something better is not a one year thing. Culture change takes time and turning around an organisation doesn't happen overnight.”

Health Minister Karen Wilson.jpg

Pictured: Health Minister, Deputy Karen Wilson,

Health Minister Karen Wilson admitted that her department is in a "period of reset" but said that Mr Bown’s appointment "strengthens the leadership arrangements".

She said: “Following the announcements that the chief officer and chief nurse informed us of their decision to resign from their posts, we needed to make some pretty quick decisions about how to ensure continuity across the organisation and across the service.

"What I was pleased about is that we were able to draw upon the talent and experience of someone available in the turnaround team to step in on a temporary basis while we went to a permanent recruitment.”

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Posted by Aston Francis on
It is of course important what the new interim Director General says. It is even more important for the staff troubled by the toxic culture to see what he actually DOES. The two departed female executives had their share of responsibility for creating the enormous structure and promoting people with a heavy-handed management style, with prior track records and also for turning blind eye to what was happening. Perhaps they decided to accept the platinum handshakes and go. Some other top bullies apparently decided to stay, some apparently even hoping to get promoted under the new management. Let’s see if Chris Brown has enough power to reshape the organisation in order to get rid of the most destructive bullying. Otherwise, all these new managerial roles, liaisons, the meetings and endless discussions will be clearly seen by the staff as the next edition of the cover-up operation and nothing will change.
Posted by Stathia Ekdikisi on
These early shaping of expectations by Mr Brown seems to indicate his appetite for an extension of his new role to the permanent one. If he truly aims to deliver the turnaround and at the same time ensure budget discipline and focus on delivering clinical excellence he will change the multi-layer management structure, empower the frontline teams and get rid of all the managers and directors actively bullying the hardworking frontline staff for the past 3-4 years. He has all the evidence at his hand, many people spoke to him and his team in the recent months. Let's hope that he has the freedom to shape the organisation and to bring the most prolific offenders to account.
Posted by EdWilliams4 on
Coming from the NHS Chris Brown must be more than aware of the lessons learned regarding bullying there. Oh, let's stop calling it a 'culture problem'. It is bullying, harassment, intimidation and discrimination that we are talking about. Some recent thoughts from the UK (below) seem to well reflect what has been happening at the Jersey General Hospital.
Culture Shift: Toxic Workplace Culture: The Hidden Epidemic within the NHS 12 Sept 2022: The NHS state that their Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are the solution. But allegations coming out from staff on the ground say that the guardians are “nothing but a box-ticking exercise”.
Time and time again, nurses and other healthcare staff have bravely come forward stating they’re too afraid to speak up in their workplace because: ‘The current system for raising concerns could lead to further issues for those who complain, as those individuals who conduct the investigations within the department are ‘generally involved’ in the cause of the complaint’.
With nearly one in three healthcare workers afraid to report their boss for bullying due to fear of repercussions, the case for anonymous reporting is clear. That’s why at Culture Shift we truly believe in the power and importance of anonymous reporting as a vital first step for many victims who will never find the courage to let you know what has happened any other way. It’s time to recognise the difference between ‘ticking a box’, and doing something that actually makes a difference and makes the NHS a better place to work for all of its people.
The Independent 2018: It is also clear that staff trying to work while being bullied are more prone to making mistakes. There is a wealth of research, including Sir Robert Francis’s 2015 report on Mid Staffordshire, that shows the impact of bullying on patient care.
Employers need to stop waiting for individuals to raise grievances, leave or go sick. There must be honest reflection on leadership behaviours that permit, encourage or collude in bullying, and a willingness from leaders to tackle bullying by managers and professionals.
Holding managers and staff to account for their standards of behaviour can radically reduce bullying. Chris Brown - how will you hold the remaining senior bullies to account? Most of them have PhDs in bullying from the worst of the UK trusts, true veterans. Are you going to re-paint the prolific bullies/ wolves into friendly sheep? Will anyone trust it? Can old dogs learn new tricks? Sacking the two ladies might make the trick but there are at least a few other senior directors heavily involved in the institutionalisation of bullying and reinforcement of fear and omerta among the employees. Nobody is going to feel safe seeing them around.
Posted by Tobias Philpott on
It is not as simple as Mr Brown tackling issues in the Department of Health. The rot spreads much wider and higher. We have incumbent politicians, who not only recruited Charlie Parker but then turned a blind eye, whilst he proceeded to damage something that although was. not perfect, but still loads better than what we have now. His "disciples" that he bought in, and could control have almost all gone, but some of them still remain and need to be kicked out. Also, the higher tiers of the civil service, who now fear for their cushy but totally unnecessary jobs, keeping going the totally unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape, that keeps them in jobs. The chief minister and her allies are trying to do this, but like Ina Gardner has tweeted, are being maliciously labelled as bullies. If they are where is the written evidence of this? It is easy for "highly placed" anonymous sources to speak to journalists who should know better, but there should be written evidence of people objecting to all this bullying and harassment.
The writer of the anonymous letter in October, which started the tumbling of the dominoes gave clear and verifiable examples of what was happening, which has resulted in an ongoing investigation. The anonymous "highly placed sources" in the civil service need to provide the same evidence, if they are to be believed. Meanwhile, the politicians who started all this mess and then protected the culprits they recruited, need to be taken to task as well.
Posted by Aston Francis on
Tobias, spot on comments. There have been multiple bullying complaints at Health not addressed or detailed by friendly investigators for years. HR and so called Case Management excelled at managing the complaints agains senior bullies. I assume the same is true in the other areas of Many of the victims are too scared to complain. There must be an anonymous, safe line/ mailbox to report bullying by managers as is the best practice in many other jurisdictions. We should also get a transparent report from the initial investigation of the anonymous letter sent half a year ago. The names can be anonymised but the counts of bullying not. They try to treat it with a usual secrecy so the public may believe in bullying not being widespread. How many of the potential victims listed in the letter agreed to speak up? If not all of them - why?
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