Following the Francis report, NHS trusts have to appoint Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) Guardians to support a culture of openness by helping staff to raise concerns openly in order to improve quality and patient safety.
As the network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians develops, Chris Hall, local FTSU Guardian at Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust (HRCH), met with the National Guardian, Dr Henrietta Hughes, to update her on the work he has undertaken to create a culture of openness and transparency at HRCH.
Dr Hughes met with Chris and Chief Executive Patricia Wright, to discuss how the role has developed at HRCH and to see first-hand what the role achieves in practice. The group also visited Teddington Memorial Hospital x-ray department, to meet staff and see Chris in a clinical setting - where he also works as a senior radiographer.
Chris says: “Starting from scratch, with no existing template to follow, has been a challenge - but I now feel the role is really taking shape and awareness amongst staff members is really good. I have been actively involved in integrating this policy with local processes in the Hounslow and Richmond communities. I also act as a facilitator and mentor to other local guardians.”
Dr Henrietta Hughes, National FTSU Guardian, says: “Early adoption of a guardian at HRCH shows commitment to staff wellbeing at this trust and shows how forward thinking HRCH is in staff and patient experience.
“From my own experience of being a doctor I know how important it is to be able to raise concerns to deliver excellent patient care.”
Chris also facilitates training of other local Freedom to Speak Up Guardians across the region, by providing information on real case-studies and the practical issues of dealing with any concerns raised. Chris also provides data on the number and nature of concerns raised for quarterly quality reports.
Chris says: “I help identify any trends so that timely action can be taken to resolve any potential areas of poor patient care.”
The HRCH visit was part of a series of visits that the National Guardian will be undertaking to NHS trusts to talk to staff and see how speaking up fits into the trusts’ wider staff experience.