"Communicate to Connect"

by Dr Esse Menson, Senior Associate, MMFDr Esse Menson

“Communicate to Connect” was the theme of this year's excellent Paediatric Critical Care Society (PCCS) conference in Edinburgh.  This excellent meeting was a compassionate call to action.  It encouraged healthcare professionals to connect and communicate on multiple levels: with themselves, with their multidisciplinary colleagues, with families and with the myriad of challenges being faced in these times.  The theme closely aligns with MMF's philosophy to support staff and families where disagreements and conflicts arise, issues so often related to a breakdown of communication and connection. 

The conference was opened with a keynote by internationally renowned hostage negotiator, Cathy McDonald who drew cogent parallels from her own work to the challenges faced in clinical settings, where different views and perspectives can exist, either between clinicians or between clinicians and families.  Cathy shared key principles and transferable skills which underpin effective communication in the face of disagreement and conflict.  She emphasised how appropriate curiosity is key, how the nuance of language matters, and how  compassionate listening can be effectively communicated through the choice of words, tone, pace and body language. She also highlighted that, in order to move from conflict towards resolution, people need time for processing, time for reflection and time to ‘journey’ from one viewpoint to another.  This message accords with the case history poster MMF presented at the conference entitled: ‘Mediation as a process for resolving conflict in paediatric healthcare: parent and professional reflections on a seemingly intractable case’.

Martha's Rule: a plea for a legal duty to listen and respond to parental concerns

by Sarah Barclay, Director, Medical Mediation FoundationSarah Barclay

No-one who has read or heard Merope Mills telling the story of her daughter Martha’s avoidable death from sepsis in 2022 can fail to be shocked that multiple attempts by her and her husband Paul to raise concerns about Martha’s deteriorating clinical condition were not listened and responded to as a matter of urgency by the health professionals responsible for her care.

The Government has now backed their call for the NHS to adopt Martha’s Rule, giving parents the legal right to a rapid and independent second opinion if their concerns are not being heard. Currently, patients and families can ask for a second opinion but in practice it can take weeks to arrange. Martha didn’t have weeks. She had days and in the end, hours for her life to be saved. Her parents needed to be listened to, not dismissed, as her mother apparently was, as being overly anxious. 

Conflict and the courts: lessons from recent case law on conflict between professionals and families

by Dr Jaime Lindsey, Associate Professor in Law, University of Reading

Conflict between healthcare professionals (HCPs), patients and families has had a relatively high profile following several reported cases reaching the courts over the past ten years. In this post we look at some more recent developments from the courts to consider what professionals working in health and social care might be able to learn from these cases, highlighting:

  1. the need to involve parents and families (and patients where possible) throughout the process
  2. the use of alternative methods of resolution of conflict where possible
  3. the need to apply to the court as soon as possible where ensuring the patient’s best interests requires it.

New online conflict management training announced with NHS England

by Sarah Barclay, Director MMF

Sarah Barclay

We're delighted to announce our new partnership with NHS England and the launch of the first online Conflict Management Training in Children’s Healthcare.

Staff working at all levels in children’s healthcare will for the first time be able to access an online toolkit for recognising, managing and de-escalating conflict between families and healthcare professionals.

The art of handling difficult meetings: Essential skills for healthcare professionals working with parents

by Audrey Dorival, MMF Associate Trainer and Mediator

Audrey Dorival

Many healthcare professionals can feel nervous or stressed at the prospect of difficult meetings with parents, families and carers. Difficult meetings can bring out the vulnerability in us all. Using simple effective mediation strategies, healthcare professionals can feel more confident to handle difficult meetings, have those courageous conversations and proactively build positive relationships.