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Hospital staff encouraged to speak up without fear if they have worries about their workplace

Central Lancashire's hospitals appoint 'champions' to encourage staff to raise any concerns.
Central Lancashire's hospitals appoint 'champions' to encourage staff to raise any concerns.
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Staff at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospitals are being urged to “speak up” if they have any concerns about where they work.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals (LTH) has refreshed its Freedom to Speak Up (FSU) team so that staff from a variety of backgrounds and different levels of the organisation are represented. The aim is to ensure all of the trust’s workers feel comfortable raising issues with the group.

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A report presented to an LTH board meeting acknowledged that “vulnerable staff groups have differing experiences when speaking up”.

Members heard that six ‘champions’ have been appointed to engage more directly with staff. The FSU team is designed to be an alternative point of contact for anybody who would rather not highlight concerns to their own line manager.

Sue Musson, chair of LTH, said it was about “welcoming people speaking up” and understanding that “challenge is not negative”.

The trust will be promoting Freedom to Speak Up month throughout October. Staff are to be surveyed to find out how many of them are aware of the FSU team - and whether they would feel comfortable using it.

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Company secretary, Phebe Hemmings, said there was a “real appetite” for an open culture within the trust and non-executive director, Tim Watkins, added that the plan felt “robust and not just a tick-box exercise”.

The new champion role was developed after a review of the trust’s policies earlier this year found that “although there are effective speaking up arrangements in place, there are areas for further focus”.

An action plan for the coming year will include reviews of issues brought to the FSU team, as well as a pledge to discuss concerns openly with local commissioners, national NHS bosses and the healthcare regulator.

All NHS trusts are required to have speaking up policies in place following a nationwide review in 2015.

Karen Swindley, Workforce Director at LTH, told the board that the FSU team is part of a wider whistleblowing strategy. “This is how we’ll get cultural change,” she said.