NHS England launches first conflict management training in children’s healthcare - elearning for healthcare
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NHS England launches first conflict management training in children’s healthcare

Kieron Bradshaw, 24 May 2023
A collage of photos showing hands of healthcare professionals, families and children.

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

Conflict is upsetting and time-consuming for everyone involved and can also affect the care and treatment of a child. The new Understanding and Managing Conflict in Children’s Healthcare elearning foundation course will support staff to enhance their skills and confidence in managing these challenging situations.

Created by NHS England in partnership with the Medical Mediation Foundation (MMF), the content has been developed with the support and expertise of health professionals and parents and carers, who have had direct experience of conflict in children’s healthcare. It is underpinned by peer-reviewed research from children’s healthcare settings.

Launching the new training course, Fiona Lynch, CNO Senior Nurse Fellow at NHS England said:

 “Unresolved conflict is upsetting and we know that without appropriate and timely management, it can be both a barrier to great care and can impact on the wellbeing of staff and families. This fantastic new resource covers the overarching principles of managing conflict and supports healthcare providers to recognise and intervene early to manage the situation themselves.”

In an introduction to the course, Professor Simon Kenny, National Clinical Director for Children and Young People at NHS England said:

“I’m really delighted to introduce this course and I hope that you find it useful. We know that the evidence shows that this reduces the level of conflict, and that means that we can have a better relationship with our parents, give better support to the children that we look after, and also from a professional level, go to work without having that dreadful feeling that you’re going to be having a battle all day.”

The interactive training course includes a research-based pathway developed to help recognise the triggers and warning signs of conflict and how it escalates. It features interviews with parents and health professionals, short discussions with the course facilitators designed to enhance learning, demonstrations by actors of key skills for de-escalating conflict, and provides a range of perspectives and additional skills to help navigate these complex situations.

The online course comprises 3 modules covering the causes and impact of conflict, the conflict pathway, and the skills and strategies to manage and de-escalate conflict. Each module can be completed at the learner’s own pace, saving work as they go, and all learners will receive a certificate once they’ve completed all three modules.

Discussing the training, Kate Pye, Deputy Director for Children and Young People’s Nursing at NHS England, said:

“As a children’s nurse and previous head of nursing, I know the significant impact conflict can have on patient care, parents, and our NHS colleagues, so I’m delighted to introduce this course on recognising and managing conflict within children’s healthcare, which is available to all staff within the NHS. This is a comprehensive course which will provide you with some key tools and strategies to support you in recognising, managing, de-escalating, and hopefully preventing conflict. I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable.”

Sarah Barclay, Founder and Director of MMF said:

 “We have seen the impact that conflict can have on health professionals and families. However, many staff working in children’s healthcare have little or no training in recognising and managing it. We are really excited to launch this new training programme with NHS England. It will help staff working at all levels in children’s healthcare to understand the triggers, warning signs and stages of conflict escalation, and give them tools and resources to approach these challenging situations with compassion and confidence .”

Accessing the training

To find out more and to access the training, please visit the Understanding and Managing Conflict in Children’s Healthcare programme page.

About MMF

Established in 2010 as a not-for-profit organisation for understanding and managing conflict in children’s healthcare, the Medical Mediation Foundation (MMF) has trained more than eight thousand health professionals across the NHS and internationally.

Its peer-reviewed conflict management framework provides health professionals with a structured pathway designed to help them understand and manage conflict promptly and maintain constructive and collaborative relationships with families and patients. It offers face to face and virtual training, conflict coaching and mediation.

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