Speaking up support scheme 2022/23 – apply by 19 August 2022
NHS England has launched the redesigned ‘Speaking Up support scheme’, which helps to support individuals who have experienced challenges in moving forward with their professional or personal lives following a formal speak up process. This was formerly known as the Whistleblowers support scheme.
All NHS staff, past or present, who meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply to the 2022/23 scheme. The closing date for applications is 19 August 2022.
National speak up policy for the NHS
In April 2016, NHS England launched a national, integrated whistleblowing policy to help standardise the way NHS organisations support staff who raise concerns. The policy was updated in June 2022. All NHS trust and foundation trust boards have been asked to update their local policy to reflect the new national template by the end of January 2024.
The policy sets out:
- who can staff can speak up to
- the process for speaking up
- advice and support for someone who speaks up
- what the organisation will do and the process to be followed when an investigation is needed
- what will be done with the findings of the investigation.
NHS freedom to speak up guide
In June 2022, NHS England published the NHS freedom to speak up guide. The guide is designed to help senior NHS leaders to develop a culture that encourages workers to speak up and drives learning and improvement.
Key messages include:
- understanding the value of speaking up
- role-modelling and communicating speaking up
- responding to and learning from speaking up
- supporting freedom to speak up guardians
- tackling barriers to speaking up and continually improving speaking up culture
- building widespread cultural change.
Speak Up offers free, independent, confidential advice on the speaking up process for employers and employees in the NHS and adult social care. You can find more information on their website.
Freedom to speak up guardians
Every NHS trust and foundation trust should have a freedom to speak up guardian. Their role is to work with the board and the executive team to support an organisation be an open and transparent place to work. They should act in an independent and impartial capacity, listening to staff and supporting them to raise concerns.
Find your freedom to speak up guardian on the National Guardian website.
Freedom to speak up e-learning
The National Guardian and Health Education England have developed training for everyone in healthcare which sets out what speaking up is and its importance in creating an environment in which people are supported to deliver their best. To access the training see the e-learning for Healthcare website.
Freedom to speak up review
In February 2015, Sir Robert Francis QC published his report on the Freedom to speak up review. The review was set up in response to continuing disquiet about the way NHS organisations deal with concerns raised by NHS staff and the treatment of some of those who have spoken up.
The report sets out 20 principles and actions which aim to create the right conditions for NHS staff to speak up, share what works right across the NHS and get all organisations up to the standard of the best and provide redress when things go wrong in future. These are designed to:
- promote a culture in the NHS where staff feel safe and encouraged to speak up
- make sure all concerns are heard, investigated properly and the right support is on hand for staff
- protect vulnerable groups, such as student nurses and medical trainees, from intimidation
- prevent discrimination against people who have been brave enough to speak up and help them get back into work.
Raising concerns at work: whistleblowing guidance
Raising concerns at work: whistleblowing guidance for workers and employers in health and social care, published in 2014, set a standard for whistleblowing/raising concerns policies in health and social care organisations. Key messages in the guidance include:
- the importance of encouraging staff to raise concerns as part of normal day-to-day practice and how this can help employers identify poor practice and improve the quality and safety of care
- an outline of the legislation – the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
- a flowchart of the whistleblowing process
- top tips for workers who wish to raise concerns and sources of advice and support
- top tips for operational managers to respond positively when staff raise concerns
- at a corporate level, the guidance sets national standards for whistleblowing policies for employers, together with a summary of their responsibilities
- case studies of good practice, frequently asked questions, and further information and links.