Kim Blakeburn, Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, SECAmb
“October is National Speak Up month, and there’s been a buzz of social media activity relating to speaking up from guardians across the NHS, using this opportunity to promote the work we do and the support we offer.
Of course, speaking up is an important subject all year and following consistent findings that the speaking up culture in NHS ambulance trusts appeared be more challenged compared to other NHS trust types, the National Guardians Office decided to undertake a speak up review into ambulance services across England. We saw the outcome of this review in February of this year, and this has resulted in improvements into creating a culture where speaking up in the ambulance service is being actively encouraged and supported.
Whilst our staff are speaking up, without ensuring listening up is effective, it will ultimately result in a feeling of futility or perhaps worse still, detriment.
As FTSU Guardians, we have found that whilst the message of speaking up has improved considerably, the next important step should focus on supporting our leadership teams to feel safe when staff do speak up, providing them with the training and development to have the autonomy to respond appropriately.
Organisations showing as most improved seem to have focused on this and some have brought in independent investigation teams. This has meant that the pressure of complicated investigations, is not put upon already incredibly busy managers, with little investigation training. The feeling of bias is also taken out of the equation.
This alongside a restorative just culture approach in responding to investigations, and the development of our leadership teams to see speaking up as a potential opportunity for improvement, could be the difference between good and outstanding in the CQC well led inspections.“