Freedom To Speak Up

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What is speaking up 

Speaking up is about anything that gets in the way of providing good care.

When things go wrong, we need to make sure that lessons are learnt and things are improved. If we think something might go wrong, it’s important that we all feel able to speak up so that potential harm is prevented.

Even when things are good, but could be even better, we should feel able to say something and should expect that our suggestion is listened to and used as an opportunity for improvement. Speaking up is about all of these things.


Speaking Up

When you raise an issue with a Freedom To Speak Up (FTSU) Guardian, it may be that you’re not clear how best to pursue it, or even whether you’ve come to the right place, so we’ll take some time to clarify your issue with you and then help you decide.

For example, it may be that you then want to speak to your manager, a colleague, Trades Union Representative or Human Resources yourself or you may want support from FTSU for the issue to be raised. You can raise issues with us in confidence if you’d like or even anonymously, although that may make it more difficult if we need more information or need to feed back to you. We also want to support and protect you if you raise an issue, to make sure that you don’t suffer detriment for speaking up.

FTSUG’s aim to amicably resolve issues at the lowest practical level, and this happens in most cases however, in some cases were appropriate, FTSU may commission a review to look at bigger problems and solutions.

Each FTSUG also raises the live issues within their areas regularly (within the bounds of confidentiality) with senior managers and senior FTSUG links for that area, particularly were an issue is proving difficult or slow to resolve. Although FTSUG’s cover each other when required, we have our own “patch” too so that we can see developing issues or themes and can then liaise with the relevant people.

Where issues get stuck, FTSU has an agreed escalation route right up to the nominated non-executive director for FTSU, to ensure the appropriate level of support.


Is speaking up the same as ‘whistleblowing’?

Although there is currently no legal definition, “whistleblowing” has come to be accepted as the disclosure by an employee of confidential information which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct connected with the workplace, be it of the employer or of his / her fellow employees, but workers can speak up about anything that gets in the way of high-quality effective care, or that affects their working life.

There are many channels for speaking up about anything that gets in the way of delivering safe and high-quality care or affects your experience in the workplace. “Speaking Up” is something that should happen as ‘business as usual’.

Speaking up may take many forms including a quick discussion with a line manager, a suggestion for improvement submitted as part of a staff suggestion scheme, raising an issue with a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, or bringing a matter to the attention of a regulator.

Some people may interpret all or some of these actions as ‘whistleblowing’, others may only associate ‘whistleblowing’ with something that is ‘formal’, or a matter that is escalated outside an organisation, or to describe something that may qualify for ‘protection’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Speaking up is about all of these things.


Who can speak up?

Speaking Up policies and processes are there to support workers. This includes any healthcare professionals, non-clinical staff, senior, middle and junior managers, volunteers, students, bank and agency staff, and former employees. There are other routes for patients and their families to raise matters of concern or to make suggestions for improvement, including Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS). 

Freedom To Speak Up Policy


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