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.

Is speaking up the same as ‘whistleblowing’?

Workers can speak up about anything that gets in the way of high-quality effective care, or that affects their working life. There may be many channels for speaking up in your organisation about anything that gets in the way of delivering safe and high-quality care or affects your experience in the workplace. It 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.

Freedom to Speak Up Self-Reflective Template

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).