The Freedom to Speak Up guardian is born!

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NHS report Learning Not Blaming creates a new class of NHS professional: the Freedom to Speak Up guardian and all NHS Chief Executives will need to appoint one. What do you need to know?

Learning Not Blaming creates a new class of NHS professional: the Freedom to Speak Up guardian. All NHS Chief Executives will need to appoint one. Guardians will operate under the guidance of a CQC-based independent national officer who will be in post by December.

Their role is to hear concerns and report them to the chief executive or board – but they may also report directly to the national officer if they are don’t have confidence. Health Education England will produce guidance on what training will be needed for the Freedom to Speak Up guardian role.

There is still plenty to be finalised

  • New support for whistle-blowers: NHS England, Monitor and TDA are to devise and establish a support scheme for NHS workers and former NHS workers whose performance is sound and who can demonstrate that they are having difficulty finding employment in the NHS as a result of having made protected disclosures. 
  • Professional codes: Professor Sir Bruce Keogh is currently considering professional codes, including how they cover the issue of raising concerns and is to report shortly. 
  • Primary care: NHS England will produce guidance by September 2015 on how to implement the principles and actions in the Freedom to Speak Up report in primary care.

What do providers need to think about now?

NHS bodies will not be required to appoint guardians until their national officer’s guidance is published – but they may appoint sooner if they wish. We would very much encourage employers to take steps as soon as possible to consider the role of guardians and the appointment process in their own organisations so that the role can be effective and meaningful on a local level.

Whistle-blowing concerns require skilful handling, particularly when there are overlapping issues, such as grievances and disciplinary allegations. Speak to us if you need guidance on whistle-blowing matters and best practice in supporting the raising of concerns openly and transparently.

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