100 Voices: Working with Temporary Workers

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust value of respect informs their core purpose: to deliver excellent and responsive assessment, treatment and care.

A member of support staff spoke up to Lynn Richardson, Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, about some temporary workers who were not exhibiting the trust’s values.

“Some temporary workers were not following instructions, and acting disrespectfully, for example, by shrugging their shoulders and walking away when asked to do something,” said Lynn. “In a mental health setting, working with patients who need careful care, respecting each other is all the more important.”

Then, three weeks later, a senior nurse expressed frustration with a lack of support from corporate staff to ensure that temporary workers had appropriate training with suitable IT access. There were issues of safety linked to nurses on the ward being unable to keep care records updated or to report incidents or near misses on the risk system. The senior nurse also highlighted that some temporary workers failed to take instruction from qualified staff.

“We value the part that temporary workers play, but we need to ensure that they exhibit the trust’s values and have appropriate training to keep everyone, patients and workers, safe,” said Lynn.

The concerns triggered discussions within the nursing management and HR team and helped them explore ways to improve the booking of workers. They developed a strategy to apply booking codes to identify workers who are trained in violence and aggression management, and the trust’s care records and incident reporting system. This would also help ward managers book trained workers with the correct level of skills and IT system access, ensuring they have the skills required for a safer shift.

With the overarching aim of creating more competent workers and improving skills, temporary workers are being offered the opportunity of free training when recommended by a manager. The issues raised also highlighted the need to regularly keep reminding workers of the importance of reporting issues when they notice the quality of temporary workers falling below the trust’s standards.

The Chief Nurse is keeping this issue under regular review through her various assurance processes, and the trust Board is aware of the issue due to the guardian’s quarterly report. Senior Leaders are monitoring the success of this planned new training approach.

Lynn said, “As a result of people speaking up to me, there is an increased awareness of the correct channels for reporting concerns about temporary workers. It highlighted the need to remind workers of established systems.

“It also highlighted the need for regular communications to help keep my role as the trust guardian in people’s minds. Although I had not seen either staff member in person, they knew who to approach and how to make their concerns known in the way that was most comfortable for them. I kept the two workers updated every few weeks via email so they were aware of the proposed changes which were happening as a result of them raising their concerns.”

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

April 14, 2020