What is Freedom to Speak Up?

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).

Find out more

Learn more about speaking up with our new E-learning package, developed in partnership with Health Education England

Speak Up: Core Training for all Workers , covers what speaking up is and why it matters. It will help you understand how you can do this and what to expect. Listen Up – for managers at all levels, focuses on listening and understanding the barriers to speaking up.  A final module, Follow Up, for senior leaders – including executive and Non-Executive Directors, lay members and governors – will be launched later this year.

You do not have to work for an NHS organisation to access this training, it is available to anybody who would like to register.

Make your #SpeakUpPledge

Already completed the e-learning? If you have been inspired to take action, you can make a speaking up pledge