My guardian role six months on

Christopher Hall

19 / 2 / 2016 4.24pm

Chris Hall is a freedom to speak up guardian at Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS Trust. In his third blog, hear how his role is developing and how the organisation is measuring success in relation to raising concerns. 

It’s now six months since I was appointed as the freedom to speak up (FTSU) guardian for my trust. Starting from scratch, with no existing template to follow has been a challenge, but I now feel the role is really taking shape and awareness amongst staff members is good.

The appointment last month of Dame Eileen Sills as the national guardian has added momentum to the task of developing a network of guardians across the NHS. Those trusts that don’t yet have a guardian in place are working actively to develop the role within their own organisation and many are seeking input from those, like myself, who are already in place.

Although my role sits outside the normal management structure, with direct access to our chief executive, I have found it useful to align myself with our Quality and Clinical Excellence (QCE) team. This team supports our existing speaking up policy and is well equipped to deal with the concerns raised by staff members. By working closely with this team, I am able to signpost, advise and encourage discussion with staff members. The team provides much needed emotional and practical support to my role.

There are also benefits in terms of measuring success. I provide information on the number and nature of concerns raised with me, and this data is incorporated into quarterly quality reports. This helps in spotting any trends or hotspots, so that timely action can be taken to resolve any potential areas of poor patient care.

2015 saw the publication of the Francis recommendations and the appointment of the first FTSU guardians. I believe 2016 will be the year when we see the role becoming widespread across the NHS and an integral part of developing a culture of openness.

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