16 June 2015

Chief Exec's Blog - How well do we respond?

blog-mini-greenAfter the traumatic event at Alton Towers recently and the swiftness with which the owners responded issuing a public apology; offering immediate support to the families of those injured, the commitment to quickly and sensitively deal with any compensation and the apparent openness and co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive's investigation, I found myself comparing this with the recent coverage of the actions of Thomas Cook. Two young children died in Corfu in 2006 as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning while staying in a holiday villa. The first sign of an apology came nearly a decade after the event and seemed to be forced by and conducted through the media. Any question of compensation seemed to be played out in the press, with apparent disregard for the family.

Looking at the activity on Twitter, it is evident that public confidence in the actions of the Merlin Group was high and the reputation of Thomas Cook diminished. Public opinion appears to entirely correspond with the respective responses to the incidents outlined above.

These contrasting approaches led me to reflect on how we, as an organisation, compare in terms of our dealing with and responding to serious incidents.

How well do we respond? How well do we engage with families and provide support in the light of an incident? How ready are we to apologise and take responsibility?

In the past, there may have been times when people have questioned our response to a serious incident, perceived a lack of support and doubted our ability to learn and improve.

We must strive to ensure that following any incident, public perception about the performance of our Trust is in line with Alton Towers and not that of Thomas Cook.  

With our best efforts, continued commitment to openness, transparency and learning, any serious incident occurring within out Trust must provide learning, the learning applied and the system improved as a consequence.


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