My experience so far - by Chris Hall

Christopher Hall

10 / 11 / 2015 11.36am

Chris Hall is a freedom to speak up guardian at Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS Trust

My role as a freedom to speak up guardian arose following the recommendations from the Francis report after the public enquiry into the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.

It's been an interesting journey so far, given that this is not only a totally new role within my trust but also across the whole NHS. Part of the challenge has been to better define the role and actively promote it to frontline staff.  Devising a means of measuring success has also been particularly difficult.

Like any marketing campaigns, frequency is the key to getting the message across and keeping it in peoples' minds. I’m trying to take every opportunity I can to meet with staff and remind them that I’m here to help them raise any concerns. This has involved a press release when I was first appointed, a dedicated presence on the trust intranet, regular attendance at team meetings, site visits and several newsletter articles. Additional communications will include a poster for display in staff areas and possibly a short video presentation in due course for use at staff inductions and similar events.

One of the first things I decided was to define two key elements. The first one is reactive, following up incidents, identifying hot-spots etc.  The second is proactive, actively involving staff to promote my role and helping staff feel confident to raise concerns. Although a relatively small trust with just over 1100 employees spread over ten sites, the range of services we offer is diverse, with some teams comprising of just a couple of individuals. Although the larger teams have been easier to access initially, I am mindful of the need to make sure everyone is aware of my role and what I can offer.

As my trust is one of the first to appoint a freedom to speak up guardian, our number nationally is limited. I’ve made a real effort to contact my peers and in doing so I’ve picked up many good ideas and tips. As our numbers increase over the next few months and with the appointment of an independent national officer under the Care Quality Commission umbrella, this should get easier.

For further information about the guardian role at Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS Trust contact Chris Hall at Christopher.Hall@HRCH.NHS.UK.

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