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Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Survey 2017

Findings and recommendations

The development of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role was a recommendation made by Sir Robert Francis in “Freedom to Speak Up” in 2015. The standard NHS
contract requires all trusts and foundation trusts to nominate a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian by October 2016.

Guidance on the role including a job description was issued by the National Guardian’s Office, initially in April 2016, with a revised form being issued in June 2016. Support was given to guardians and trusts throughout 2016 /17, including foundation training and the development of regional networks to promote local learning and sharing of good practice.

Whilst the overall requirements of the role have been published, the role is not centrally funded, with trusts being expected to implement the role according to local need and resources. As this is a new initiative, and one that requires a broad range of skills and qualities, up until this point the National Guardian’s Office has not issued detailed guidance on the grading of the role, where the role should fit in within organisational structures, or how the role should be resourced.

This survey is intended to provide a more systematic understanding of how the role has been implemented, who is being appointed to the role and, for the first time, ask the new network of guardians for their thoughts on Freedom to Speak Up within their trusts.

Ensuring that the needs of staff are met and that Freedom to Speak Up develops in a way that responds to local circumstances, are fundamental principles of the role. The results of this survey have helped identify some potential issues. These are highlighted and trust and foundation trust leadership teams are encouraged to reflect on these and, where necessary, make changes to ensure that the guardian role is properly resourced, embedded and used as the source of support, learning and improvement that it is intended to be.