If I want to speak up about something, what should I do?

Usually your line manager will be your first point of call, but if you don’t feel you can speak up to them or use other formal routes, then you should refer to your local Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, who will be able to offer guidance and support.

Why were Freedom to Speak Up Guardians created?

The National Guardian’s Office and the role of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian were created in response to recommendations made in Sir Robert Francis’ report “The Freedom to Speak Up” (2015). These recommendations were made as Sir Robert found that NHS culture did not always encourage or support workers to speak up, and that patients and workers suffered as a result. Further information on the Francis Report can be found here.

What is a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian?

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians support workers to speak up when they feel that they are unable to do so by other routes. They ensure that people who speak up are thanked, that the issues they raise are responded to, and make sure that the person speaking up receives feedback on the actions taken. Guardians also work proactively to support their organisation to tackle barriers to speaking up. Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are appointed by the organisation that they support and abide by the guidance issued by the National Guardian’s Office (NGO) They follow the ‘universal job description’ issued by the NGO.

Who can become a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian?

Individual organisations decide who is best placed to take on the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role. FTSU Guardians need to be able to carry out all aspects of the ‘universal job description’ for the FTSU Guardian role and should be able to capture the trust and confidence of workers and senior leaders. Organisations may appoint more than one FTSU Guardian.

How do I contact a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian?

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians will make an effort to promote their contact details within their organisation, so you may find your intranet page, staff noticeboard etc. have details, but you can also find details of guardians on the Guardian Directory we publish:

I no longer work in the organisation where the matter I want to speak up about took place – what do I do?

If the organisation you have left has a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, you should be able to speak up to them. They should be grateful for any information that will enable them to support their organisation to improve.

Why can’t I just speak up directly to the National Guardian’s Office?

The role of the National Guardian is to:

  • Develop and support the network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians
  • Carry out case reviews
  • Challenge and support the health system

Generally, matters are best dealt with locally where appropriate action can be taken quickly and effectively. However, in some circumstances, it might be appropriate to raise an issue directly with a regulator or professional regulatory body, a local authority safeguarding team, or even the police. Your local policy should include details.

What other support is there to speak up?

The National Guardian’s Office cannot provide legal advice and support.

Other organisations that can provide support include:

This is a free, independent and confidential helpline for people working in NHS and Social Care organisations in England, operated by Social Enterprise Direct Limited on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care.

You can contact them on 08000 724 725 or by completing their contact form.

This is a national charity which aims to protect society by encouraging speaking up in the workplace. It provides legally privileged advice to individuals, supports organisations with their speaking up arrangements and monitors legislative impact and campaigns for change.

You can contact them by calling 020 3117 2520 or by emailing whistle@protect-advice.org.uk.

  • The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

BEIS has produced a useful list of prescribed bodies that can provide support. This document includes information about the matters you can report to each prescribed person. Please ensure that you have selected the correct person or body for your issue.