Independent health providers have come out top in a review of how well healthcare providers and regulators have established a culture of speaking up within their organisation.
The National Guardian’s office surveyed almost 600 Freedom to Speak Up Guardians (FTSUGs) – a role established following Sir Robert Francis’ “Freedom to Speak Up” Review to help develop cultures where safety concerns are identified and addressed at an early stage.
It found that three quarters of FTSUGs working in independent providers agreed that “my organisation has a positive culture of speaking up”, compared with 62% of respondents from NHS organisations and healthcare regulators.
Almost two thirds (65%) agreed that “people in my organisation do not suffer detriment as a result of speaking up” – a figure that dropped to 45% in all providers.
Just 13% of independent sector FTSUGs said “there are significant barriers to speaking up in my organisation”, compared with 30% of guardians from all responding organisations.
Managers and senior leaders in the independent health sector were also found to be more supportive of staff who raised concerns around safety and other key issues.
Almost seven in 10 (69%) guardians in the independent sector said “managers support staff to speak up”, rising to 75% who believed that senior leaders supported staff in this area. This fell to just 45% and 65% respectively for all FSUGs.
All providers of NHS services subject to the NHS Standard Contract are obligated to have a FTSUG, and there are already almost 100 working in the independent health sector.
David Hare (pictured), chief executive of the Independent Healthcare Providers Network, said Freedom to Speak Up Guardians play an absolutely vital role in improving safety and the quality of care delivered to patients.
“While there’s still more to do on this agenda, it’s encouraging to see the guardians’ work being so embraced by independent providers, with a clear steer from the top that speaking up and identifying barriers to delivering the best possible care is a priority for all those working in the sector,” he added.