Pro Bono Economics offers starting point for monetising some of the benefits of healthcare forums

8 Apr 2019

Pro Bono Economics offers starting point for monetising some of the benefits of healthcare forums covering the emotional and social aspects of the sector’s work.

A new evaluation from Pro Bono Economics, prepared for internal consumption, has sought to examine some of the benefits of the “Schwartz Centre Rounds®” from the Point of Care Foundation – an independent charity with a mission to “humanise healthcare”.

With insufficient evidence available it has only been possible to quantify the direct benefits relating to a reduction in sickness absence. As such, it has not been possible to robustly estimate the economic value of other potential benefits, including improved in-work productivity, impacts on wider teams and benefits to patients.

The report’s conservative findings therefore show that for every £1 spent on the programme, the healthcare organisation will benefit from around £0.10 in value from the reduction in direct costs of employee absence. The evaluation and prospective understanding of the potentially wider benefits would of course be strengthened by further work along the sensitivity tests showing that benefits from in-work productivity and additional costs reduced use of Agency staff alone could increase this return to £0.30-£0.40 for each £1 spent on the programme.

The Point of Care Foundation is a small charity with a mission to improve the way patients are cared for and to support the healthcare staff who deliver support. In an environment where 38% of NHS staff feel unwell due to work related stress[1] and mental health has become the most reported reason for absence[2], Point of Care Foundation see the delivery of high-quality care as only being possible if staff get the practical and emotional support they need.

One of Point of Care Foundation’s key interventions is to train and support organisations to run Schwartz Centre Rounds® (Schwartz Rounds). These are structured forums where all staff in an organisation, clinical and non-clinical, are invited to come together regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare.

The underlying premise for Schwartz Rounds is that the compassion shown by staff can make all the difference to a patient’s experience of care, but that in order to provide compassionate care staff must, in turn, feel supported in their work.  Currently, 202 organisations across the UK and Ireland have adopted the approach spanning NHS Trusts, hospices, private healthcare institutions, university medical schools, and ambulance trusts.

Pro Bono Economics work drew heavily on recent research into the effectiveness of Schwartz Rounds lead by Professor Jill Maben of the King’s College London Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery[3]. Using evidence gathered from baseline and follow-up surveys at 10 sites Professor Maben’s study provides evidence that regular attendees of Schwartz Rounds experience a statistically significant reduction in psychological wellbeing compared to non-attendees.

Jill Maben’s study provided the basis for Pro Bono Economics volunteer, Smita Mehta, to link the measured improvement of staff mental health resulting from the programme to savings from reduced sickness absence. We would like to thank Smita for all her hard work on this project.

[1] NHS Staff Survey Results 2017

[2] First Care report (2017). Change at Work: How Absence, Attitudes and Demographics are impacting UK employers.

[3] Maben et al. (2018)