Regional research project examines the impact of team culture on quality of NHS care


A major new research project is underway in Yorkshire and the Humber, examining if the leadership and culture of NHS staff teams affects the quality of care in mental health services.

The project, Leading to Quality, is being led by the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, one of the largest specialist NHS Trust’s in the region. The research is taking place in all nine NHS Trusts who provide community mental health services across Yorkshire and the Humber.

The research is being carried out by a team from the School of Management at the University of Bradford, led by Professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, one of the UK’s foremost academics in the area of leadership. The research team will examine the impact of leadership and culture on the effectiveness of teams and the quality of care received by adults who receive mental health services in the community.

The primary aim of this research is to discover ways in which leadership behaviour enables multi-professional teams to function most effectively to promote and sustain improved health outcomes for service users and carers.

The research project, which was commissioned by NHS Yorkshire and Humber (the Strategic Health Authority), is currently looking for people who use mental health services to get involved in the preliminary research. Each of the nine trusts taking part in the project is seeking involvement from people aged between 18 and 65 who are receiving NHS mental health care in the community. The trusts also want to speak to carers to gather a wide variety of opinions and perceptions of the care received. NHS staff will also have their opinions sought.

Maggie Bell, project lead and assistant director of workforce development leadership at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, explained, "It is clear that there are a great many factors that influence successful team working, and by identifying these in one focused and in-depth study it will provide specific and practical advice for mental health teams.

This research will help promote effective multi-professional team working – which will not only benefit people in the Yorkshire and Humber region, but could also be applicable across the whole of the NHS, improving productivity and effectiveness in health and social care nationally."

It is hoped that the project will not only result in practical guidance for teams but will also inform strategy in relation to provision of mental health services as well as add to the academic debate in this area.

Chief executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Steven Michael said, "According to the Care Quality Commission, as many as half of all NHS teams may be working in a dysfunctional team, while other research has recorded extremely high levels of stress among NHS staff. This can, obviously, have serious implications not only for the wellbeing of NHS staff but also on the quality of care received by people who use services, and their carers."

Professor Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe said, ""Bradford University School of Management are proud to have won this major cutting edge research project, investigating the nature of effective leadership and team working in mental health.

There are two very important features of the research. The first is that it is a three-year longitudinal study; a type of study not commonly undertaken, but essential for finding cause-effect relationships. And, the second, that it involves users and carers in determining the criteria of successful healthcare delivery. The project, which has the support of all the trust chief executives, will result in the production of developmental materials for improving the quality of health care in the NHS in Yorkshire and Humber, and more widely.”

Further information about the project can be found at

Regional research project examines the impact of team culture on quality of NHS care

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