In what ways can the National Health Service (NHS) successfully engage people in large capital developments?

  • Samantha McCumiskey

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


Abstract The University of Manchester: Masters of Philosophy (2011)Title: In what ways can the National Health Service (NHS) successfully engage people in large capital developments?Candidate: Samantha McCumiskeyThe aim of this research study was to investigate what additional value a "people-focused approach to projects" offered large scale NHS capital developments, such as the TIME Project. Including what methods of change are most effective in human systems? And how do stakeholders want to be engaged? The TIME Project was a NHS capital project that aimed to build five mental health centres at an approximate cost of £130 million.The issues are set in the context of the researcher's experience of working in an NHS that seemed to prioritise project management approaches to change and her "lived reality" of operating in a dynamically complex human system where project teams actually focus day to day on engaging with and influencing key stakeholders. A review of the literature highlighted a gap in NHS capital project literature relating to people focused change approaches. The study involved a mixed research approach using Appreciative Inquiry (Ai) and Action Learning (AL), and four research methods; 1. An on-line questionnaire, 2. Semi-structured interviews, 3. An action learning set and 4. A reflective diary.Data identified six key themes the researcher concluded were critical for developing a successful framework for engagement activities, they were; 1. Stakeholders influence (able to contribute/ be listened to); 2. Establish feedback loops (take action/continual feedback); 3. Group meetings and joint conversations; 4. Physical environment (accessible, comfortable and informal); 5. Flexibility of approach and 6. Leadership skills and values of project staff.Results also offered two engagement approaches as methods an NHS Trust might adopt to implement change (i.e.) Ai for its evidential benefit in supporting the early stages of a capital project (supporting large and varied groups of people to establish a shared vision, direction and objectives) and AL for its value in focusing smaller groups of people into action such as developing detailed building designs (the later stages of a capital project).
Date of Award31 Dec 2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorAnn Shacklady-Smith (Supervisor)


  • NHS
  • Engagement
  • Action Research
  • Involvement
  • Capital Project

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