Restorative Just Culture: a Study of the Practical and Economic Effects of Implementing Restorative Justice in an NHS Trust

Mannat Kaur, Robert J. de Boer, Amanda Oates, Joe Rafferty, Sidney Dekker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Restorative justice is an approach that aims to replace hurt by healing in the understanding that the perpetrators of pain are also victims of the incident themselves. In 2016, Mersey Care, an NHS community and mental health trust in the Liverpool region, implemented restorative justice (or what it termed a 'Just and Learning Culture') to fundamentally change its responses to incidents, patient harm, and complaints against staff. Although qualitative benefits from this implementation seemed obvious, it was also thought relevant to identify the economic effects of restorative justice. Through interviews with Mersey Care staff and collecting data pertaining to costs, suspensions, and absenteeism, an economic model of restorative justice was created. We found that the introduction of restorative justice has coincided with many qualitative improvements for staff, such as a reduction in suspensions and dismissals, increase in the reporting of adverse events, increase in the number of staff that feel encouraged to seek support and a slowing down of the upward trend in absence due to illness. It also improved staff retention. The economic benefits of restorative justice appear significant. After corrections for inflation, acquisitions and anomalies, we found that the salary costs averaged over two fiscal years were reduced by £ 4 million per year, coinciding with the introduction of a just and learning culture in 2016. In addition, Mersey Care reaped around £ 1 million in saved legal and termination expenses. We conservatively attribute half of these savings to the introduction of a just and learning culture itself, and the other half to non-related factors. Using this assumption, we estimate the total economic benefit of restorative justice in the case of Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust to be about £ 2.5 million or approximately 1% of the total costs and 2% of the labour costs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMATEC Web of Conferences
PublisherEDP Science
ISBN (Electronic)2261-236X
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • restorative practice
  • just culture
  • Healthcare
  • Human Factors
  • Organizational culture


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