100 Voices: A Toxic Culture Confronted

Large NHS Trust

A worker spoke up about a bullying and harassment culture in a department which had become culturally toxic.

The guardian stood by me from the moment it was brought to her attention,” said the worker.   

Finding their mental health affected by the bullying within the team, the worker had reported it to their manager. 

I was told that ‘there was not enough evidence’ to raise a formal complaint,” said the worker. They contacted the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian after finding out about the work of the guardians on a training course. 

I had a conversation with the guardian on the phone. She gave me updates as they happened, and offered support and reassurance throughout the investigation. Other team members were also able to speak up due to me coming forward.

Although the worker left the teamthey decided to do some work within the trust to raise awareness about bullyingapplying to work alongside the guardian to empower and encourage staff to speak up, not only when things go wrong but also when they are working and sharing good practice.

I would absolutely speak up again,” said the worker. “If it hadn’t been for the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, I do not know where I’d be today. She stood by me every step of the way. I cried, I laughed and even at times, got angry and she did not once pass judgement. I look up to her not only as someone who helped me through one of the most challenging times in my professional life, but also as a mentor whom I can learn from.

This case study was part of our 100 Voices publication which accompanied the 2019 Annual Report.

Case studies are vital to illustrate the good work of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. We encourage all organisations to share the learning from their speaking up stories for our website, bulletin and 100 Voices booklet, which will continue to accompany the Annual Report going forward.

If you have a Freedom to Speak Up story to share, please send an email to enquiries@nationalguardianoffice.org.uk

March 18, 2020