Do workers feel safe to speak up?


National Guardians Office is urging all healthcare organisations to include the question 'Do workers feel safe to speak up?' on their staff surveys. 

In its Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) Index Report, National Guardians has welcomed the inclusion of this question for the first time this year in the NHS Staff Survey. The issue, it says is demonstrating freedom goes beyond raising concerns about patient safety to speaking up about anything that gets in the way of doing a great job. It is relevant to all healthcare organisations and all employees as the promoters and barriers to speaking up are common to all.

"Is it safe to speak up? Will I be listened to? Will action be taken?"

Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS, in the foreword of the Index Report, says: "Freedom to Speak Up is for everybody who works in health. It includes primary and secondary care, independent providers, hospices and national bodies. It goes beyond those surveyed in the NHS Staff Survey and to be  truly inclusive needs to work for locum and agency workers, junior doctors, students, volunteers, contractors and all workers who may face additional barriers to speaking up.

"As the health sector evolves to more integrated ways of working, it is essential that speaking up arrangements are consistent so workers can be confident that when they speak up, they will be supported, listened to, and the appropriate actions taken."

Freedom to Speak Up e-learning modules, developed by National Guardians in association with Health Education England are already available for all health workers, whatever part of the sector they work in. They are designed to explain clearly and consistently what speaking up is and its importance in creating an environment that supports people to deliver their best. 

Speak Up is the first module, which is available for everyone. The second module, Listen Up, is designed for managers and focuses on listening and understanding the barriers to speaking up. A final module, Follow Up, for senior leaders will be launched later this year to support the development of Freedom to Speak Up as part of the strategic vision for organisations and systems.

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