Freedom to Speak Up Guardians reported receiving 9,754 speaking up cases in the first half of this year, an increase of 34% on the same period in the previous year.

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians submit non-identifiable information to the National Guardian’s Office (NGO) about the speaking up cases raised with them. A report issued today (10th December 2020) by the NGO reveals that, between 1 April and 30 September 2020, a record number of cases were brought to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.

The report is based on interim data submitted by Freedom to Speak Up Guardians
The interim data supports the results of a series of monthly Pulse Surveys the NGO carried out between April and June 2020. These surveys sought to understand how the pandemic was affecting speaking up and Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.

Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE, National Guardian for the NHS, said: “The majority of respondents to the Pulse Surveys indicated that workers continued to be encouraged to speak up during the pandemic. This is supported by interim data that shows workers have continued to speak up to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.”

Nineteen per cent (19%) of cases raised included an element of patient safety or quality, which was lower than the same period in 2019/20 (25%). Similarly, a smaller percentage (30%) of cases included an element of bullying and harassment compared to the same period in the previous year (38%).

Comments from Freedom to Speak Up Guardians on the data they submitted indicated the impact the pandemic has had. Nearly a quarter of comments referenced matters regarding the pandemic, including social distancing; the availability, suitability and proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE); redeployment of workers and general anxiety around the pandemic. Worker safety and wellbeing during the pandemic was also a key theme, with some reluctant to speak up due to the crisis.

Dr Henrietta Hughes OBE said: “I am so grateful for the commitment and passion of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians who continue to support workers to speak up in such challenging and difficult circumstances. Workers’ voices form a key pillar of the NHS People Plan. But it is beholden on all leaders and managers to listen to what workers are saying and act upon what they hear.”


Find out more about the speaking up data which Freedom to Speak Up Guardians submit to the NGO