26 July 2019
The trust that runs Shropshire’s two acute hospitals has strengthened its Freedom to Speak Up team, which now extends to three Guardians and 24 Advocates.
Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) Guardians exist in all NHS Trusts. They act in an independent capacity to make hospitals safer for patients and staff by encouraging a more honest environment where all staff, volunteers and students feel able to raise any issues or concerns and know that they will be addressed confidentially, swiftly, and in line with good practice.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, now has three FTSU Guardians: Kate Adney, Chan Kaur and Teresa Carrington, who will cover all sites across the Trust. The Executive Lead for Freedom to Speak Up is Dr Arne Rose, SaTH’s Medical Director.
The Trust Board has demonstrated its commitment by agreeing to strengthen the Freedom to Speak Up team to provide extra capacity to address staff’s concerns about being able to raise issues regarding unsafe clinical practice, and to ensure that these issues are always addressed. These concerns were highlighted in a recent NHS Staff Survey.
In addition to SaTH’s three Guardians, there are also 24 FTSU Advocates. Advocates work on a voluntary basis and can provide informal and confidential guidance on how to raise a concern. They fulfil this role in addition to their regular jobs, which are both in clinical and non-clinical areas, across the Trust. FTSU Advocates can be easily identified by their green Freedom to Speak Up lanyards or badges.
Kate Adney, FTSU Guardian, said: “We are proud to have three FTSU Guardians and over 20 Advocates at SaTH. Our growing numbers show a real commitment to the wellbeing and safety of our staff and patients.
“We are working to strengthen the profile and presence of the important work we do across the Trust to reinforce the message that raising a concern isn’t disloyal, and that all wrongdoing, poor practice or bullying will be addressed immediately and dealt with.”
Dr Rose, said: “As a board, we recognise what we are hearing through the staff survey and we take these matters very seriously indeed.
“A lot of work has already been undertaken and I look forward to working with the expanded team to develop this even further.”
The FTSU Guardian role was introduced in 2015 following the publication of the Freedom to Speak Up Review, chaired by Sir Robert Francis QC, which examined whistleblowing in the NHS.
Speaking at the time, Sir Robert said: “Everyone in the NHS needs to support staff so they have the courage to do the right thing when they have concerns about patient safety. We need to get away from a culture of blame, and the fear that it generates, to one which celebrates openness and commitment to safety and improvement. If these things are achieved, the NHS will be a better place to work. Above all, it will be a safer place for patients.”