16 / 3 / 2016 Midnight
Siobhan Gregory is director of quality, clinical excellence and operations for Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS Trust.
Our trust appointed Christopher Hall as our Freedom To Speak Up Guardian six months ago. Chris reports to me, although he obviously has a direct line to the chief executive.
As the executive responsible for probity, duty of candour and being open, I believe Chris' role is fundamental in encouraging the open and transparent approach to care we foster. We have always been very honest and encourage a culture of openness, but as an exec, I'm also aware that while this is what we want, we still have staff who don't feel able to challenge or are nervous about approaching their line manager. His role is instrumental in providing another, safe channel for staff to use.
We are learning as we go along. This is a new role and we're using each case and example as a way of learning and adapting the role, to make sure Chris continues to be a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) for staff. It's important that his role doesn't become another human resources role or simply a way of implementing a process. For example, we have systems and processes in place to address disciplinary and grievance matters and it is important to be clear what is a public interest concern.
Chris’ role is so much more. It's an opportunity to share, discuss and reflect - hopefully so that issues can be resolved without having to go through the anxiety a formal process can bring. That is not to say that if we’re concerned about patient safety, we wouldn't act, but rather staff voices are heard and acted on in a safe environment. By working closely with me and my team, we can make sure the right person acts on staff concerns. We can make sure we learn from each case and continue to care for our staff.
We are proud to be one of the first trusts to employ a guardian and are keen to share our learning with others.
For further information about the guardian role at Hounslow and Richmond Community NHS Trust contact Chris Hall at Christopher.Hall@HRCH.NHS.UK.