There has been a lot of history leading up to the introduction of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). They were defined as an output of the Sir Robert Francis inquiry into the issues at Mid Staffordshire.
In the government’s response to the Francis report it stated that there had grown a “defensive culture more concerned with reputation than with either the truth, or with treating those raising concerns well and fairly.”
The report itself highlights the issues encountered by those that were willing to come forward:
The message from staff who have suffered as a result of raising concerns has been loud and clear. I heard shocking accounts of the way some people have been treated when they have been brave enough to speak up. I witnessed at first hand their distress and the strain on them and, in some cases, their families. I heard about the pressures it can place on other members of a team, on managers, and in some cases the person about whom a concern is raised.
In response to this background the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role was proposed to “act as an independent and impartial source of advice to staff, with access to anyone in the organisation, including the CEO, or if necessary outside the organisation. They can ensure that the primary focus is on the safety issue; that the case is handled appropriately, investigated promptly and issues addressed; and that there are no repercussions for the person who raised it.”
Clearly there is a need to give confidence to those that have issues to share that they will be treated fairly. Freedom to Speak Up Guardians themselves have an important role to play in this but also Trusts need to put in place mechanisms to ensure that staff feel that they can come forward safely. One way of achieving this is to allow anonymous reporting, in fact the Francis report makes specific reference to this:
“the majority of staff working in both NHS trusts and in primary care agreed that having the ability to report anonymously would make it more likely that staff would raise a concern”
The report also stated that “It can be harder to follow up a concern that is raised anonymously”.
However, it needn’t be that way. SpeakInConfidence allows Trusts and other organisations the ability to give their staff the protection that anonymity offers and that they may need along with the ability to have an ongoing conversation to ensure that you can follow up and get the information you need to investigate a claim.
Many organisations are already benefitting from having increased conversations and better engagement through SpeakInConfidence. Why not find out if you could too?