Nearly a year as Freedom to Speak Up Guardian

Heather - raising concerns

22 / 4 / 2016 12.25pm

Heather Bruce is the Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) Guardian for the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHSFT. This is her first blog explaining how the role has developed since she was appointed in July 2015

This has been a very busy year for me and that’s my excuse for taking so long to do my first blog! 

It’s more than ten months since I was appointed and it has been an exciting and challenging time.

Initially the work involved promoting the culture of raising concerns across the trust. With more than 6,000 staff and a distance of 45 miles between our two biggest sites, this has taken some considerable time.  But with much walking of the sites on my part, 4,000 leaflets and posters and promotion through the intranet, I am becoming well-known and staff are embracing the culture of raising concerns.  Our behavioural standards framework was launched simultaneously and our staff have found this empowering in standing up for their patients and themselves.

Now the majority of my time is taken up with helping staff to raise concerns where appropriate and to continue to support my colleagues. We have had some positive results from escalating issues and thereby improving services.
I still work as a radiographer two days a week and I am the industrial relations rep for the Society of Radiographers. Being clinically based and through my contacts with staff side, I have an ease of access to staff, which has increased the credibility and independence of the role. In line with the recommendations of the freedom to speak up review, I work alongside our lead non-exec director for FTSU and our medical director and I have direct access to our chief exec, Jackie Daniel. 

In August 2015, NHS Employers set up their quarterly “Raising concerns Share and Learn” forums and I have attended each of them. That has provided me with access to an invaluable network of freedom to speak up guardians.  Finding out what works and what doesn’t seem to, has been very useful.

At the moment, all new staff receive the freedom to speak up message at induction.  The next steps I will be taking is to liaise with learning and development on a training programme that we can use to reach out to all staff, using the e-learning package that is being developed by Health Education England. I am also hoping to set up training workshops for managers to support them in responding to concerns.

For me this has been a great opportunity to contribute to improving patient care and supporting our staff through the cultural transformation that has been initiated since the publication of the Mid Staffs Inquiry and the freedom to speak up review.

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