What is speaking up?

Speaking up is about anything that gets in the way of providing good care.

When things go wrong, we need to make sure lessons are learnt and things are improved. If we think something might go wrong, it’s important that we all feel able to speak up so potential harm is prevented.

Even when things are good, if they could be even better we should feel able to say something and should expect that our suggestion is listened to and used as an opportunity for improvement. Speaking up is about all of these things.

When you raise an issue with a Freedom To Speak Up (FTSU) Guardian, you might not be sure how best to pursue it, or even whether you’ve come to the right place, so we’ll take some time to clarify your issue with you and then help you decide.

For example, it may be that you then want to speak to your manager, a colleague, Trades Union Representative or HR yourself, or you may want support from FTSU for the issue to be raised. You can raise issues with us in confidence if you’d like or even anonymously, although that may make it more difficult if we need more information or need to feed back to you. Mersey Care also wants to support and protect you If you raise an issue, to make sure that you don’t suffer detriment for speaking up.

Our FTSU guardians aim to amicably resolve issues at the lowest practical level, and this happens in most cases. However in some cases, where appropriate, FTSU may commission a review to look at bigger problems and solutions.

Each FTSU guardian also raises the live issues within their areas regularly (within the bounds of confidentiality) with senior managers and senior FTSU guardian links for that area, particularly where an issue is proving difficult or slow to resolve. Although FTSU guardians cover each other when required, we have our own 'patch' too, so we can see developing issues or themes and can then liaise with the relevant people.

Where issues get stuck, FTSU has an agreed escalation route right up to the nominated non-executive director for FTSU, to ensure the appropriate level of support.

Although there is currently no legal definition, 'whistleblowing' has come to be accepted as the disclosure by an employee of confidential information which relates to some danger, fraud or other illegal or unethical conduct connected with the workplace, be it of the employer or of his / her fellow employees.

With speaking up, staff can speak up about anything that gets in the way of high-quality effective care, or that affects their working life.

There are many channels for speaking up about anything that gets in the way of delivering safe and high-quality care or affects your experience in the workplace at Mersey Care. Speaking up is something that should happen as ‘business as usual’.

Speaking up can take many forms, from a quick discussion with a line manager or an improvement idea through staff suggestion scheme, to raising an issue with a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian or bringing a matter to the attention of a regulator.

Some people may interpret all or some of these actions as ‘whistleblowing’, others may only associate ‘whistleblowing’ with something that is ‘formal’, or a matter that is escalated outside an organisation, or to describe something that may qualify for ‘protection’ under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. Speaking up is about all of these things.

Speaking up policies and processes are there to support workers. This includes any healthcare professionals, non-clinical staff, senior, middle and junior managers, volunteers, students, bank and agency staff, and former employees.

There are other routes for patients and their families to raise matters of concern or to make suggestions for improvement, including Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS)

The Trust is developing a network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians across the Trust, both in clinical and non-clinical areas .

Their role is to:

  • Help raise awareness of the Freedom to Speak Up within their team, by wearing the Freedom to Speak Up Lanyard, putting up posters/notices, raising the importance of speaking up in team meetings/training and inducting new staff/trainees in the Freedom to Speak Up process.
  • Acting in some cases as the first point of contact for colleagues to raise a concern and sign posting them to the right colleague to help them gain resolution , this will include to the line manager , staff side and the Freedom to Speak Up guardian. The champions role is always to pass on the issues and concerned colleague to an appropriate agency /colleague.  
  • Work with their line manager to consider the culture of their team and whether it is one that encourages colleagues to challenge issues/raise concerns and leaders listen carefully and provide feedback. They will work with their managers to consider if there are  enough team meetings/reflective practice sessions to allow issues to be raised proactively with the aim of creating and maintaining an open culture.

Champions are supported by Freedom to Speak Up Guardian by the provision of initial training, provision of network meeting and away days and one to one group meetings .  

Meet Our Guardians

We have four FTSU Guardians, who all work part-time and flexibly to cover the week between them. If the guardian for your area isn’t in work when you need to speak to them and you feel your issue can’t wait until they return, please contact another member of our team who will be able to talk your issue through with you.

julie critchley.jpgJulie Critchley

Role: Freedom to Speak Up Guardian
Area of work: Community division
Days of work: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Email: julie.critchley@merseycare.nhs.uk

Sue Fogg.pngSue Fogg

Role: Freedom to Speak Up Guardian
Area of work: Mental Health Care Division
Days of work: Monday to Friday
Email: sue.fogg@merseycare.nhs.uk 

steve-morgan.pngSteven Morgan

Role: Freedom to Speak Up Guardian
Area of work: Secure and Specialist Learning Disability Division and Corporate services  
Days of work: Monday to Thursday
Email: steven.morgan@merseycare.nhs.uk

Justine Nakimuli

Role: Freedom to Speak Up Guardian
Area of work: Cultural and sensitivity lead and covers Urgent care services in the mental Health Care Division
Days of work: Monday and Friday
Email: Munawar.Osman@merseycare.nhs.uk