Cara Charles-Barks, Chief Executive
17 February 2022

Cara Charles-Barks
Cara Charles-Barks
On Random Acts of Kindness Day, I'd love for us to think about the importance of kindness, and how we can make it the norm - ultimately contributing to a kinder world.

At the RUH, our values provide the bedrock for how we work together and with our patients, helping us to create an open, kind and inclusive culture as well as an outstanding place to work and be treated.

The attributes of care and compassion run through the NHS and all of us want to come to work each day and do an amazing job for our patients and support one another. However, it's understandable that the stress and pressure of being in the NHS, particularly in the last two years, can sometimes take over and kindness and civility are put to one side. But it's during these times that we must dig even deeper because kindness and civility saves lives.

A study published in the British Medical Journal of Quality and Safety compared the performance of anaesthetists in a simulated operative theatre emergency environment depending on if the surgeon was rude or polite. One interesting finding was that the performance (compared with expected) of the anaesthetist was much lower in the group in which the surgeon was rude – 64% compared with 91% when the surgeon was polite.

Christine Porath, whose TED talk is called "Why being respectful to your co-workers is good for business" says that environments where civility and kindness are embedded are more productive, creative, helpful, happy and healthy. She challenges us to consider the question "Who do you want to be" before every interaction you have at work.

Kindness doesn't have to be a grand gesture. In fact, I believe there is power in little acts of kindness. Every day I go out of my way to say 'good morning' to each person I pass in the corridor so they know that the RUH is a welcoming place to be.

Kindness can also be found in listening, smiling, saying please and thank you, taking someone for a coffee if you sense they need a break or someone to talk to. It costs nothing to show this type of kindness and yet it's powerful; every day kindness helps us all be the best we can be and has ripple effect to our patients and the wider community.

We have a civility and kindness tool kit to provide you with inspiration about starting conversations around kindness & civility as well as supporting you to increase your self-awareness about your impact and times when you may not be as kind as I know you'd like to be. This work is underpinned by the NHS People Promise, that we all work together to improve the experience of working in the NHS for everyone, and has involved many of you taking part to tell us what your experience of kindness and civility is at the RUH.

I hope that you experience kindness on Random Acts of Kindness Day and that you are encouraged to show kindness whenever you can. Because kindness really does make a big difference.

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