Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom) has ranked joint 10th out of 220 NHS Trusts in the new Freedom To Speak Up Index published by NHS England and the National Guardian’s Office.
The index monitors ‘speaking up culture’ in the NHS, and has found that 180 trusts nationwide (82%) have made it easier for staff to speak out about concerns since 2015.
Shropcom – which provides a wide range of community services to people in Shropshire and Telford, and Children’s services in Dudley – has fully embraced the Freedom To Speak Up initiative and actively encourages staff to talk about concerns, The Trust has a Freedom To Speak Up Guardian, Alison Trumper, backed up by 10 Freedom To Speak Up Advocates.
Jan Ditheridge, Chief Executive of Shropcom, said: “All successful organisations make sure they listen to their staff. Our own people know better than anyone what we do well and are encouraged to speak up and tell us where there is room for improvement.
“We are proud of our open, transparent culture – it was noted by the Care Quality Commission earlier this year when they rated our services as Good, and it is pleasing to see that reflected again in this new index.”
NHS England commissioned the National’s Guardian Office to develop the index based on four questions from the annual NHS Staff Survey, including whether staff feel secure raising concerns if they see something unsafe.
Shropcom scores 83%, placing it among the very best in the country, and close to top-performing Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, who score 87%.
Alison Trumper, Freedom To Speak Up Guardian at Shropcom, said: “Working in an open, honest and supportive culture is key to delivering high standards of care, as well as staff and patient experience.
“Being brave and speaking up about concerns is a valuable early alert system for safe and compassionate patient care, and staff and patient wellbeing.
“The Freedom To Speak Up Advocates are there to support staff, but there are lots of ways people can speak up. We encourage staff to talk to their manager, Team Leader, tutor or clinical supervisor first, and to use the Datix incident reporting system.”
Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS said: “Broadly speaking the index reveals a very strong correlation between trusts that are rated highest by the CQC and those that have the highest rated speaking up cultures.
“Trusts should see the index as an insight into the views of their workforce around the issue of speaking up.
“The aim of the report is to commend those trusts doing well and those that have shown significant improvement, while encouraging those that have room to improve to take the opportunity to address the issues that may be affecting their index scores.”
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “A more open and transparent working culture will not just mean happier staff, it will also mean happier patients too. Evidence consistently shows that a positive speaking up culture leads to better CQC ratings, and ultimately better care for our patients.
“And this is what drives over a million people to go to work for the NHS every day. It is everyone’s responsibility to speak up when they see something that doesn’t look right – and now more than ever, staff are doing exactly that.”