Communication Within the Nhs

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1. The National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded service, providing free health care for all British citizens. ‘Since its launch in 1948, the NHS has grown to become the world’s largest publicly funded health service’ together with one of the largest employers in the world’. However throughout the past decade the demand for health care has been rising radically and with the continuous need to be accountable for public spending the NHS has been put under immense pressure to be cost effective at the same time as achieving their prime objective of improving the standard of care (NHS Choices, 2010).

1.1 Human resource management is crucial to the success of this goal since it identifies the increasing recognition that health care delivery relies fundamentally on the capacity and capabilities of the workforce. In centring the attention on efficient communication throughout the organization, HRM can ensure employee satisfaction, thus improving the performance standards and providing optimal productivity. Efficient communication is the bedrock to any organization wishing to achieve such means, thus through obtaining relevant information on the techniques and barriers, which can affect the flow of good communication, managers are guided within the decision process, thus avoiding situations that may arise as a result of poor interaction, (Hyde etl, 2006).

2. Communication is defined by Rollinson (2005, P576) as ‘a process in which information and its meaning is conveyed by a sender to a receiver’. This definition draws upon the fundamental principle that for information to be exchanged efficiently the receiver and the sender must attribute the message with the same meaning. Shannon and Weaver’s communication model (figure 1) is based on eight basic constituents that not only explain how communication happens, but why communication sometimes fails. An understanding of this is vital, since inadequate or ineffective communication impacts negatively on employees causing frustration and misconceptions to arise, consequently lowering working standards along with damaging employee morale. In organisations, such as the NHS, where employees are under intense pressure to do more with less, employee morale is one of management's most utmost concerns. Low morale has a detrimental effect on the organisation, gradually destroying worker’s commitment, the service they offer, and thus alienating the patients they serve, (BNET Editorial, 2010).

2.2 As with all communication skills, the goal of communication in the NHS should be, to achieve mutual understanding of a message either being given or received, so efficient tasks ensue as a result (, 2007). However it is fundamental to realise that the communication process can regularly be made difficult or sometimes impossible due to barriers affecting the coding process. These are individual’s characteristics, predispositions and preoccupations which divert their attention elsewhere. (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007). Differences in people’s perceptual filters can affect the way in which a message is decoded. . In relation to the Shannon-Weaver model this is what is referred to as noise. This is not just other people talking or background noise; it comprises of anything that interferes with the way in the message being transmitted. Huczynski and Buchanan (2007) describe five significant attributes, which can disturb the effective exchange of information. These include: language and cultural diversity, power differences, gender differences, physical surroundings.

3. The NHS is a multicultural society, so the need to consider various values and beliefs is a necessity. Within each medical, nursing, management, and many other professions various identities, cultures and subcultures exist (Hyde etl, 2006). This consequently leads to the possibility for information to be misinterpreted, thus lowering the working standards and employee morale. A numerous amount...
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