NHS Embrace

Putting patients at the heart of healthcare strategy


Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is a large acute healthcare provider in Birmingham encompassing three large hospitals employing over 10,000 staff. A new Director of Nursing and Midwifery identified that process and workload pressures had the potential to have a negative impact on the quality and safety of patient care. She devised a new nursing strategy with the patient as the focus of care and decision making. The challenge was to launch this in such a way that to would be relevant to all 6,500 nursing staff to the degree that they would feel able to change their work practices and decision making as a result.


Strategic documents in the NHS tend to look very similar: long, dense and un-enticing, written in a language that carries a lot of meaning to those schooled in its style but which to others can seem obtuse or meaningless. The Space worked with the Director of Nursing and Midwifery to distil the essence of the strategy into three core axioms. These were then shared with a group of 350 nurses representing the most progressive thinkers and practitioners across different specialisms and at every stage of the nursing career. The group was given a challenge: create a standard and style of care unique to Heart of England based on these axioms. A brand was created for this new style of care: Embrace. The Space trained facilitators from the senior nursing team to lead different work streams over the course of a day, the result of which was a practical and engaging strategic document that the 350 were then able to spread and support across the wider nursing community at the Trust.

HE mat 5 copy


Research amongst the delegates that created the strategy showed an almost universal acceptance of its aims and approaches and high levels of motivation to make it work amongst colleagues. Fay Baillie, Director of Nursing and Midwifery wrote:  “A vision and strategy with communication plan was submitted and approved by the Board with all 6,500 nurses feeling they had been involved and listened to in  moving forward together. The model of care continues to underpin nursing practice and development at Heart of England. The branded strategy for nursing and midwifery created a social movement. It transformed the nurses’ belief and restored their pride.”