Actions taken at Whittington Health NHS Trust to improve the experience and confidence of workers to speak up

The latest case review by the National Guardian’s Office (NGO) has outlined a variety of processes addressed by Whittington Health NHS Trust to foster an environment in which workers are encouraged to speak up and to show the organisation is listening and acting.

The case review, carried out at the end of last year, revealed encouraging areas of good practice around speaking up. This included regular supervision of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian; sufficient resource for the role to be undertaken full-time; and regular meetings with HR business partners to promote understanding and support speaking up.

However, there were also 14 areas of improvement identified by the NGO case review that highlighted issues around the wording and application of the trust policy relating to speaking up, support and feedback to those who do speak up, and the way in which the trust manages grievances.

Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE, National Guardian for the NHS, said, “It’s really encouraging to see that Whittington is taking actions to improve the speaking up culture including areas the case review highlighted.

“The range of actions being taken go from helping workers better understand the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role through to simply thanking those workers who do speak up. Very often simply engaging people on that level so that workers are assured the organisation wants to listen to what they have to say can make a huge impact.”

“Ensuring that people feel safe to raise concerns is vitally important”, Siobhan Harrington, CEO of Whittington Health NHS Trust said.

“That is why one of my first acts as Chief Executive in 2017 was to begin a review into our culture.

“The report highlights how far we have come in recent years in providing a service to support those who wish to speak up.  We strongly believe that better never stops and so the findings will also support us in improving the service and embedding it in what we do day in, day out.”


Read the Review Summary with details of the findings of the NGO and actions of the trust. Guardians in other organisations throughout England will also be encouraged to act upon the findings of the review, carrying out gap analysis in relation to their speaking up processes and initiating their own actions where appropriate.

“Our case reviews are focused on learning,” said Dr Hughes. “Learning both for the trust at which the review is carried out and for all other trusts and organisations committed to making speaking up business as usual. We must help the NHS move to a learning culture so that we can drive change and embed improvements.”


June 11, 2020