Why speaking up matters

Posted on October 18, 2020 by AireAdmin

October is Freedom To Speak Up (FTSU) month and Jo Harrison, Director of People and OD, has written a short blog to explain why speaking up is important at Airedale.

What’s your name and what is your role?

Hello my name is Jo Harrison, I am the Director of People and Organisational Development here at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. I am also the executive lead for speaking up.

What does being free to speak up mean to you?

Freedom to speak means that every individual feels able to raise any concerns about anything that gets in the way of delivering safe, high quality care or affects their experience in the workplace. This could be things related to the working environment, training and induction, suspicions of fraud, bullying behaviour and patient safety concerns. This is not an exhaustive list but gives you an idea of the types of things that might be raised as part of speaking up.  

Why is it important for people to be able to speak up?

Speaking up is not just important, it is vital, as it supports us to improve our services for patients and the working environment for our colleagues. No-one understands how our services work or how it feels to be a colleague here at Airedale like our people working in our services do. Hearing your voice is crucial for continuous improvement and learning.

What role does the Trust Board play in speaking up? 

The Trust Board are given information on themes that are raised by staff on a regular basis and through our annual freedom to speak up report. They are also involved in supporting the action plans associated with this work and embedding speaking up a part of our culture here at Airedale. I have already mentioned that I am the Executive Lead for FTSU and Melanie Hudson is our non-executive lead. The Board is committed to supporting colleagues to raise concerns and to feel able to speak up.  

What is your role in the process?

My role is to support the development of our FTSU strategy and a culture that is responsive to feedback and focuses on learning and improving the quality of patient care and the experiences of our people. However, although I am the executive lead for speaking out, it doesn’t mean that all concerns raised end up with HR – and it is important that they don’t.  Kate Bell, our FTSU Guardian, will support you to find the right route to address your concerns in a way that you are comfortable with.

What has been your experience of people speaking up?

The benefits of speaking up are evidenced based:  it improves patient safety, the quality of services, health and wellbeing of colleagues, to name a few.  It gives colleagues a voice, control and influence in shaping our organisation now and into the future.

What’s your advice to anyone feeling nervous about speaking up?

We know the main reason why people don’t speak up is for fear that they may be victimised or because they do not believe anything will change. I would like our people to know that we value your opinions and we will act on them. We will not tolerate anyone being victimised as a result of speaking up and we encourage you to use your voice, but also for the benefit of patients and colleagues.