Freedom to speak up: support scheme for NHS workers

NHS England has launched a redesigned speaking up support scheme.

7 July 2022

NHS workers have access to a redesigned speaking-up support scheme which helps individuals who have experienced challenges in moving forward with their professional or personal lives following a formal speaking-up process.

The scheme, formerly known as the Whistleblowers Support Scheme, was created in 2019 as a response to the recommendations from the 2015 Freedom to Speak Up Review conducted by Sir Robert Francis. The review highlighted the importance of speaking up and ensuring individuals feel supported in doing so. It also recognised that organisations lost crucial skills as workers left their employment after speaking up. The scheme has been revised based on learning from the previous versions of the support scheme.

What does the scheme offer?

This is a structured program to those who are eligible for support. The support will be offered online via virtual platforms by specialists in wellbeing and coaching. Several methods will be used including, but not limited to, one-to-one psychological wellbeing support, career coaching, and personal development workshops.

Who can apply?

NHS England welcomes all workers, both present and those who’ve been part of the NHS within the last three years, who fit the eligibility criteria. It includes all workers regardless of banding and clinical / non-clinical backgrounds.

How can employers get involved?

We encourage NHS employers to ensure all staff members are made aware of this scheme. This can be actioned through the education of HR departments, and freedom to speak up (FTSU) guardians, and ensuring all policies and processes reflect the principles of the FTSU guides.

Employers should be mindful and actively seek to connect with workers who:

  • work unsociable hours and therefore may not be aware of the FTSU guardians or guides
  • are in lower bands and may need reassurance about speaking up and be made aware of the support scheme
  • may experience cultural barriers when speaking up.

NHS England are now taking applications for the 2022/23 speaking up support scheme. The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022, for more information on how to apply visit NHS England’s website.