This book is one of a series on values-based practice (VBP). It has a specific focus on teamwork and collaborative health care practice particularly, but not exclusively, in primary care. The health care teams considered include nurses (practice and advance practitioners), midwives, general practitioners (GPs) and hospital doctors, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals as well as receptionists and practice managers. The book considers the interactions between health care professionals and the way that these may be affected by differences in professional and personal values, amongst other factors. The scenarios are informed by my experience in general practice in both the UK and Australia, but they can be adapted to family medicine situations in other countries.
This book is thus for all health care professionals who work in teams or aspire to collaborative practice, and for educators who facilitate learners in teamwork. Health professional students should also find it useful and hopefully stimulating, while the scenarios may be helpful for learning activities.
The text contributes to the literature on consultation and communication skills by adding the dimension of values-based practice, which is rarely mentioned in other work of this nature. It is a practical guide, underpinned by theory, to health care interactions. The underlying philosophy of values-based practice, as described and discussed by my colleagues, Professors Bill Fulford and Ed Petle, in their own work, will be the starting point for the text. However I also consider and reflect on working in teams and the importance of communication.
Health and social care within the NHS in the UK is now largely team based; from the primary care team of community settings to the multidisciplinary teams of secondary care, as particularly exemplified by cancer and diabetes management. he ageing population and the rise in the incidence of long term chronic and complex conditions mean that one health care professional is unlikely to have the knowledge and skills to provide complete care. The growing team work literature highlights the difficulties of diverse professionals coming together to work together with their unique professional identities, their changing roles and responsibilities and, for many, their lack of training in teamwork at prequalification level. Add to this both personal and professional values bases, and we can see that communication is fraught with difficulty. Poor communication is implicated as a major cause of adverse events in health care and leads to poor patient safety. Lack of communication between professionals and dysfunctional teamwork have been repeatedly shown to contribute to poor patient and client outcomes.