The secret of being called ‘best group’

Robin Stride describes how looking after your workforce paid dividends for Spire Healthcare, winner of the coveted ‘Hospital Group’ prize at the LaingBuission Awards.

The 8,000+ consultants with practising privileges at Spire Healthcare have been praised by its chief executive for helping it win the Hospital Group accolade in the LaingBuisson awards for 2022.

Spire Healthcare won the ‘Hospital Group’ accolade at the LaingBuisson Awards in November

Justin Ash told them: ‘I congratulate my clinical and management colleagues who continue to focus their efforts to make a positive difference to people’s lives through outstanding personalised care.’ 

This, and the year’s Nursing Practice award, given at the same time, reflected the ‘amazing results’ from the groups’ teams.

Mr Ash believes companies who emerge well from recessions invest into recessions. In practice, with demand high for Spire’s in-and-out-of-hospital services, this means delivering consistently high-quality care and patient experience, focusing on cost management and, most importantly, looking after its workforce. 

Justin Ash

Spire’s aspiration, which it calls its ‘Purpose’ – with a capital ‘P’ – is to make ‘a positive difference to people’s lives through outstanding personalised care’ across its 39 hospitals, 30 clinics and a network of private GPs and occupational health services.

Commitment to people

It was recognised for a commitment to caring for patients, colleague training and development, and innovation in terms of delivering digital solutions to drive efficiency and improve patient communications.

The Hospital Group accolade, earned against many other leading independent sector providers, was received for ‘a clear commitment to its people and wider stake­holders, which is evidenced by the culture of inclusion and developing staff.’


Spire’s ‘Purpose’ of ‘Making a positive difference to people’s lives through outstanding personalised care’ means:

 An uncompromising focus on patient safety, quality and clinical governance to secure the best outcomes for patients;

 Making a positive difference to all colleagues – it talks of ‘colleagues’ rather than staff – instilling a culture of respect, inclusion and collaboration;

 Making a positive difference to the environment, where it is
committed to becoming net zero carbon by 2030, and to the communities it serves.

This ‘Purpose’ was initially co-produced in 2019 with consultants, patients and colleagues, and agreed by a vote of more than 200 attendees at an annual leadership conference. 

It was then rolled out through a series of interactive workshops, with everyone attending a launch session. After an update to the wording last year, it is included in all new-starter inductions, so joiners are immersed in it from day one.

Spire describes its ‘Purpose’ as sitting at the heart of its culture, drivings what it does and inspiring its workforce to strive towards constant improvement. In its last staff survey, over 80% reported that this made them feel their job was important.

Patient satisfaction linked to self-pay growth

In patient surveys, 92% of patients say their care was outstanding, 94% say it was personalised and 85% say it made a positive difference. Spire says every patient deserves the same quality of care, regardless of whether they are NHS, insured or self-pay.

Patients say they choose Spire, knowing they will receive high-quality care. 98% of the group’s Care Quality Commission(CQC) inspected hospitals and clinics are rated ‘Good’, ‘Outstanding’ or the equivalent by health inspectors in England, Wales and Scotland, ahead of the sector average of 89%. 

95% of its sites are rated by the CQC as good or outstanding for being safe, against the average of 78%. For well-led, it is at 97%, against the average of 86%.

Post-pandemic waiting lists led to an explosion in demand from patients willing to self-pay. As reported in the group’s interim results for the first half year of 2022, self-pay revenue was sharply up by 34% compared with H1 2021. 

The 2021 figure was already 50% up on H1 2019, as the self-pay market expanded after the major peaks of the pandemic. Patients are increasingly booking with Spire for complex treatment, such as cancer and cardiac care, as well as diagnoses.

Apprentice scheme

Spire is committed to developing skills and in 2021 launched a new nurse apprenticeship programme, currently training 200 people. 

During the worst of the pandemic, it treated over 350,000 NHS patients between April 2020 and December 2021 and has continued to support NHS trusts to care for patients waiting the longest.

A digital transformation is meanwhile driving operational efficiency, automating manual processes, improving patient experience and boosting innovation. 

With 19 robots assisting with knee and hip surgery, more are to be delivered across 2023. Spire Manchester is the biggest user of Mako robots in the country, across the NHS and independent sector, with more than 1,000 procedures having taken place to date.

Green credentials

Spire reports it reduced its emissions by 8% over 2021, building on the 33% reduction already achieved between 2015 and 2020.

Its estate and engineering infrastructure continues to be up-graded, with the replacement of gas-powered steam boilers with more efficient electrically powered equipment; installation of more efficient ventilation systems; investment in LED lighting and modern chillers with heat recovery systems. 

The installation of photo-voltaic solar panels is generating 24kw of free electricity, with more installations to follow. As well as establishing a network of Carbon Champions across all Spire hospitals and administration sites, it is expanding the use of electric vehicles across its fleet and installing charging points.

Its work with wider stakeholders includes:

 Involving patients in decision-making about their care: 96% of patients say their experience of their care at Spire hospitals or clinics care was good or very good;

 Patient groups helping the group develop services such as the design of a protocol to support patients and learn when things go wrong – something which is now adopted as national best practice by government;

 Each hospital supporting local good causes; for instance, charity challenges across Spire have raised tens of thousands of pounds for food banks across the UK.