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How to Successfully Implement the Freedom to Speak Up Policy

13 September 2023


  • Patient Safety
  • Primary Care

In a workplace that values open communication, voicing concerns becomes an avenue for positive change. The “Freedom to Speak Up” (FTSU) policy and Guardian role stand as pillars for facilitating this transformation. Speaking up empowers employees to openly, confidentially, or even anonymously share their concerns, ideas, and suggestions, fostering transparency and accountability. 

The NHS developed the FTSU to address a critical need. It emerged from the recognition that open communication isn’t just a necessity but one that safeguards against harm and enhances employee well-being. 

NHS organisations and NHS service providers in England must adopt this national policy, ensuring that every voice is heard – benefiting staff and patients. Its aim? To guarantee that it not only acknowledges but also thoughtfully addresses every concern. 

In this blog, we will explore the Freedom to Speak Up policy and the tools that can facilitate its successful implementation

What is the Freedom to Speak Up Policy? 

The Freedom to Speak Up policy empowers employees to voice concerns, report misconduct, or raise any issues related to their roles or that may impact the safety of others and the integrity of the NHS. It establishes a secure environment where organisations value employees’ thoughts, ensuring that employees are free from the fear of backlash, thereby forming the foundation of trust and teamwork.

You can view the full guidance on the NHS England website. 

Core Components of Freedom to Speak Up: 

  • Confidentiality: The policy is there to ensure employees’ concerns are handled with utmost confidentiality, protecting their identity. 
  • Protection from Retaliation: The policy is there to shield them from any backlash, be it discrimination, harassment, or job-related issues. 
  • Clear Reporting Channels: Expressing their thoughts should be easy. The policy sets up straightforward channels, including the option to stay anonymous. 
  • Supportive Environment: Organisations should work hard to make sure employees are comfortable sharing openly. Managers and leaders are there to foster this culture. 
  • Timely Response: Employees’ voices matter. The policy spells out when and how their concerns will be tackled. 

Our Tips for a Successful Implementation:  

Online Reporting System 

When things go wrong, learning and making improvements are crucial. An online reporting system like Radar Healthcare provides a platform to capture information anonymously, fostering an environment where employees can comfortably voice concerns to prevent potential harm.  

Just like reporting an event in Radar Healthcare’s interoperable system, the same streamlined process applies to Freedom to Speak Up. Its form functionality allows employees to speak up anonymously and confidentially. Additionally, FTSU teams can identify recurring themes and trends, track the frequency of reports, and conduct sentiment analysis to gauge the emotional tone behind the concerns raised. All this valuable information is available at the click of a button in Radar Healthcare. 

Tip: Implement regular surveys using Radar Healthcare to gauge employee wellbeing to identify areas for improvement. 

Clear Communication 

Share success stories to show that you’re listening to staff. This will enable other employees to see that speaking up is not only accepted but encouraged.

Establishing a clear communication channel to interact with the staff is vital. It allows them to witness the organisation’s active commitment to valuing their input, ideas, and concerns, creating a culture where success stories emerge from making a difference. 

Radar Healthcare’s document management module, along with notices and scheduled tasks, ensures consistent task completion while maintaining a clear record of actions taken. This seamless system ensures that no detail is overlooked and provides reassurance to staff that their submissions trigger meaningful follow-up actions. 

What does a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian do? 

A Freedom to Speak Up Guardian guides employees through the reporting process and ensures their concerns are appropriately addressed. In Radar Healthcare, all staff are provided with free online E-learning training to stay compliant, and up to date with the policy and procedures. 

In conclusion, a robust Freedom to Speak Up policy is a vital element of any organisation’s commitment to fostering a culture of transparency and trust. By embracing this policy, organisations can empower their employees to contribute to positive change, ultimately leading to improved employee satisfaction, ethical practices, and long-term success. 

Important Update: 

All NHS trusts and foundation trust boards are being asked to update their local policy to reflect the new national template by the end of January 2024 and provide at least one progress update. 

For more information about Radar Healthcare’s integrated solution for risk management and policies including FTSU, get in touch with our expert team.   

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