Team UHDB recognised nationally as more staff feel freedom to speak up | Latest news

Coronavirus guidance

If you think you may have symptoms of Coronavirus >, follow the national guidance and self-isolate for 10 days. Please see our information for visitors > before you plan on visiting one of our hospitals. If you, or a member of your family has tested positive for Coronavirus, please find resources to aid your/their recovery on our supporting your recovery from Coronavirus > page.

Team UHDB recognised nationally as more staff feel freedom to speak up

picture of Alison Bell

UHDB has received national acclaim for creating a culture of openness that is seeing more of our colleagues feel comfortable enough to raise concerns they have at work.

The Trust’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian offers an outlet for staff to speak up – in confidence – which, at a time where our hospitals have come under unprecedented pressure recently, has never been more important.

Since first being established nearly four years ago, confidence and trust in this valuable service has continued to grow and this has accelerated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with 221 colleagues feeling comfortable speaking up between April and September this year. 

This is a massive 179% increase on the same period 12 months earlier, as the extra stresses caused by the pandemic understandably led to more staff choosing to speak up on a variety of issues – from social distancing in corridors, to rules around when and where to wear the right PPE.

The fact that more people than ever felt able to come forward to Alison Bell, UHDB’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, during this incredibly difficult period is an indication of the immense contribution her role has had in changing the culture of the Trust.

This work has now been recognised on a national scale, with UHDB being shortlisted for ‘Freedom to Speak Up Organisation of the Year’ at the upcoming HSJ Awards – for the second year in a row!  

Alison said: “The last few months have been very difficult for us all at UHDB as our hospitals have come under enormous pressure, so speaking up has never been more important. During this period, we saw more of our staff feel able to raise concerns than ever before and this is continuing to rise all the time, which is fantastic to see.

“We are absolutely committed to promoting openness across our Trust and encouraging colleagues to come forward but changing and creating this kind of culture can take a long time. I am so proud of all the work we’ve done as a Trust to promote speaking up and am delighted to see this recognised on a national scale.”  

The focus of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role is to act as a main point of contact for any staff member who spots any kind of wrongdoing, malpractice, or other concerns.

Alison was appointed as the Trust’s first ever Freedom to Speak Up Guardian in January 2017 and has since overseen huge changes to the service, which is now helping more people than ever before, with a Freedom to Speak Up Champions role also being developed to ensure more staff feel represented.

In fact, confidence in the service has increased so much that 74% of those that made the decision to speak up decided against doing so anonymously and spoke to Alison directly instead.

She added: “We are determined to be an inclusive Trust, so it has been fantastic to see trust in the service continue to grow and more people feel able to come forward and speak up. We know that our colleagues are much more willing and comfortable to speak up than before, which is very humbling. It really does feel like a bit of a movement that’s starting to generate momentum and we hope that more and more of our colleagues will continue to raise any issues they see.”

The HSJ Awards will take place virtually on 17 March.