Creating a just and learning culture

Evidence and good practice around creating just and learning cultures in NHS organisations.

21 April 2023

Within the NHS, employers in partnership with trade unions have been working hard to create a culture of civility, respect and honesty, so that when something goes wrong, staff can speak up without fearing blame, and all parties share learning. This is widely known as creating a just and learning culture.

Evidence shows that creating a just and learning culture can lead to improvements in staff experience, which in turn impacts positively on the delivery of patient care.

When it’s okay to tell the boss bad news

Read about Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust's journey of implementing a just and learning culture in this case study

Just and learning culture – online learning

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust has developed online learning modules on establishing a just and learning culture. The modules are available through the trust's restorative just and learning culture web page.

Just culture guide

NHS England and NHS Improvement developed a just culture guide which encourages managers to treat staff involved in a patient safety incident in a consistent, constructive and fair way.

Being fair report

NHS Resolution published the first being fair report in July 2019, which set out the argument for organisations adopting a more reflective approach to learning from incidents and supporting staff. 

In March 2023, NHS Resolution published a second being fair report, which follows on from the first and aims to promote a person-centred workplace that is compassionate, safe and fair. The report references our compassionate and respectful workplace cultures page and NHS England's civility and respect toolkit.

A just culture network

Access resources from the Improvement Academy just culture network on their website, including a Just Culture Assessment Framework.

Just and learning culture in the North West – guiding principles – June 2021

Employers and trade unions working in partnership through the North West SPF, agreed to guiding principles to develop and sustain a restorative just and learning culture for people working in the NHS across the region. Access the just and learning culture in NW guiding principles.

Working in partnership to influence compassionate case work

Midlands and East regional SPFs developed a resource to support trade union and management colleagues to understand the difference that managing employee relations case work in a compassionate, just and learning way, can make to individuals, staff and the organisation.