New external ‘speak up’ policy for NHS staff introduced

A new policy for NHS workers to speak out about issues they are currently facing in their roles has been introduced, called the ‘external freedom to speak up’ policy.

The policy outlines how NHS England will respond and continue to support those who speak up and aims to ensure that all issues and concerns raised are recorded and considered in due course.

The policy encourages workers to speak up about issues or concerns that they feel are harming the healthcare service, for example concerns relating to unsafe patient care or working conditions, a bullying culture or the conduct of senior leaders.

The policy goes on to explain the ways in which staff can speak up, noting that staff must be able to explain the full circumstances and that comments can be made openly, confidentially or anonymously. It states that support must be available for people who choose to speak up from the intranet, handbook, managers, or staff networks.

Overall, the policy aims to improve the services and working environment across the whole NHS and confirms that “lessons will be shared either within organisations or more widely across systems or across the wider NHS as appropriate”.

As part of the ongoing improvement aim and development of the policy, the NHS will undertake regular monitoring of its effectiveness over time, with feedback used to continuously improve and strive for a better working environment for staff.

The full policy guidelines and information can be found here.