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CQC inspections to scrutinise Freedom to Speak Up guardians


26 January 2017

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The CQC is in talks over including the whistleblowing process in planned inspections, according to the person in charge of complaints in trusts.

Henrietta Hughes, the National Guardian, told delegates at a Westminster Health Forum event on patient safety today that inspectors will look at a trust’s Freedom to Speak Up process when deciding whether a trust is ‘well-led’.

The National Guardian’s office is currently working with inspectors and Freedom to Speak Up guardians based in trusts to develop guidance on this.

The CQC is in talks over including the whistleblowing process in planned inspections, according to the person in charge of complaints in trusts.

Henrietta Hughes, the National Guardian, told delegates at a Westminster Health Forum event on patient safety today that inspectors will look at a trust’s Freedom to Speak Up process when deciding whether a trust is ‘well-led’.

The National Guardian’s office is currently working with inspectors and Freedom to Speak Up guardians based in trusts to develop guidance on this.

Hughes said: ‘Looking at the freedom to speak up process will become part of the CQC well-led inspection and we're going to be developing guidance with the CQC inspectors and also the freedom to speak up guardians together so that it will cover a really valuable part of understanding the culture of the trust.’

Freedom to Speak Up guardians are employed by nearly every trust in England, with just 16 yet to employ a guardian, according to Hughes.

Sir Robert Francis suggested the scheme, which sees guardians help raise the concerns of staff, after his report on the failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

However, Hughes said guardians have ‘run into problems’ when they want to raise concerns themselves or face an issue concerning a board member.

‘When it comes to board members raising concerns about each other,’ she said, ‘my advice to freedom to speak up guardians is to provide the same level of support to the board member as they would to any other member of staff.’

She added: ‘What we like to do is to put a freedom to speak up guardian in touch with somebody in a neighbouring trust who provides them with buddying and support.

‘But there's also something about the external view of the trust and that's where the National Guardian's office can provide that level of top cover to the freedom to speak up guardians.’

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