Improving communication in healthcare teams

By Oscar Mathew, Director MMF

Oscar Mathew

Effective communication is a critical component of successful healthcare delivery. Healthcare teams that communicate effectively are better able to provide quality care, resolve conflicts, and create a more positive experience for colleagues and patients alike.

However, improving communication within a healthcare team is not always easy, especially when an unhelpful culture of behaviour or ways of working have developed.

Healthcare teams that foster a culture of open communication are more likely to address issues before they become major problems, and they are also more likely to have a positive working environment.

Read on for three strategies that you can try out to improve communication within your team

Conflict between colleagues in Primary Care

by Dr Clare Sieber, MMF Trainer and Mediator

Dr Clare Sieber

We heard from Oscar Mathew in last month's blog about the effect conflict has on healthcare leaders and the additional burden they carry by virtue of being responsible for resolving it, as well as perhaps being blamed for causing it in the first place. But what happens when conflict directly involves someone who has the role of senior clinician, manager and business partner?

This month, I'd like to focus on a specific area of the healthcare system in the UK and how conflict manifests itself here; general practice.

In previous blogs, MMF colleagues have talked extensively about the types of conflict that we see in health care settings; conflict with patients and conflict between colleagues. In UK General Practice, GP surgeries are independent businesses, so the leaders - namely the GP partners and practice managers - have two additional types of colleague conflicts to contend with: conflict between the employer and employees (I.e. Employment disputes) and conflict between business partners.

Strategies for improving team communication as a leader

By Oscar Mathew, Director MMF

Oscar Mathew

Leaders often approach us for help when their teams are stuck in conflict.

Sometimes they are a party to the conflict; sometimes they aren’t but are tasked with managing it. Commonly they are seen as being responsible for dealing with it, but easy solutions are hard to pin down. It can be difficult to see a successful route through the conflict.

This isn’t in any sense a failing on their part; it’s a reflection of the fact that discord within a team is a knotty and stressful dynamic to try and unpick, and one that rarely lends itself to easy answers.

Sometimes conflict has become so embedded that it requires a mediated solution, but there are also steps leaders can take to help prevent issues escalating to that stage. Encouraging open, constructive disagreement and inclusive dialogue is a great way of preventing conflict establishing itself in your team.

So - what can you do as a team leader to try and establish the right kind of team dynamics?

Please don’t tell me not to worry

by Sarah Barclay, Founder, MMF

Sarah Barclay


What makes a parent start to lose trust in the health professions who are looking after their child? Three things stand out for me in the many conversations I’ve had with parents in my professional life, both as a medical journalist and as a medical mediator:

  1. Not being listened to
  2. Not being sufficiently respected as an “expert” in their own child*
  3. Being told “there’s nothing to worry about” - we call this premature reassurance

Creating a psychologically safe space for clinical teams

by Oscar Mathew, MMF Director

Oscar Mathew

When mediating between two people, the main challenge is working with two narratives that don’t align.

We find conflict such a challenge because we think we’re right, and the other person is the problem. They think they’re right, and (cue audible gasp) we’re the problem. And the clincher: neither person’s conclusion, looking at the territory in front of them, makes sense to the other person.

Resolving conflict between two people is a challenge, often a pronounced one. So what happens when instead of two narratives you have twelve? How do you even start righting the ship with such complexity present?