Ensuring that staff feel free to speak up about any concern they may have at work is really important. In fact, it is vital because it will help us to keep improving our services for all patients and the working environment for our staff.
Senior leaders and the entire Board at our Trust are committed to an open and honest culture and want to encourage staff to raise any concerns they might have at the earliest possible time. The Trust will look into any concern that staff raise and in doing so staff will have access to any support they need.
Staff can raise a concern about risk, malpractice or wrongdoing they think is harming the service we deliver. Just a few examples of this might include (but are by no means restricted to):
- unsafe patient care
- Negative impacts on staff wellbeing and morale
- unsafe working conditions
- inadequate induction or training for staff
- lack of, or poor, response to a reported patient safety incident
- suspicions of fraud (which can also be reported to our local counter-fraud team via NHS National Fraud and Corruption Reporting Line on 0800 028 40 60).
- a bullying culture (across a team or organisation rather than individual instances of bullying)
There is Freedom To Speak Up training available for staff and this can be found via ESR, (classified as Essential Training). Included in this training package are short films which provide staff with further information.
Feel safe to raise a concern
If staff raise a genuine concern under the Freedom to Speak Up Policy, they will not be at risk of losing their job or suffering any form of reprisal as a result. We will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a concern. Nor will we tolerate any attempt to bully staff into not raising a concern.
Any such behaviour is a breach of our values as an organisation and, if upheld following an investigation, could result in disciplinary action. Providing staff are acting honestly, it does not matter if they are mistaken or if there an innocent explanation for their concerns.
We hope staff will feel comfortable raising a concern openly, but we also appreciate that they may want to raise it confidentially. This means that while staff may be willing for their identity to be known to the person they report their concern to, they may not want anyone else to know their identity. Therefore, we will keep their identity confidential, if that is what wanted.
Who can raise a concern?
Anyone who works (or has worked) in the NHS, or for an independent organisation that provides NHS services can raise concerns. This includes agency workers, temporary workers, students, volunteers and governors.
Who should you raise your concerns with?
In many circumstances the easiest way to get a concern resolved will be to raise it formally or informally with the line manager (or lead clinician or tutor).
But where it is not appropriate to do this, the concern can be raised using any of the options set out below in the first instance.
This is an important role identified in the Francis Freedom to Speak Up review (2015) to act as an independent and impartial source of advice to staff at any stage of raising a concern, with access to anyone in the organisation including the chief executive, or if necessary, outside the organisation.
If for any reason staff do not feel comfortable raising their concern internally, they can raise their concerns with external bodies:
- National Freedom to Speak Up Guardians Office for advice and guidance
- NHS Improvement
- Care Quality Commission for quality and safety concerns
- NHS England for concerns about; primary medical services, primary dental services, primary ophthalmic services or local pharmaceutical services.
- Health Education England for education and training in the NHS
- NHS Protect for concerns about fraud and corruption.
- Trade Unions and Professional Regulators