Sharp decline in Freedom to Speak Up guardians’ perception of the improvements in the Speak Up culture of the healthcare sector
Survey reveals more work being done to take action on barriers to speaking up, but system pressures adding to feeling that speaking up is futile
Today we have published the results from the 2023 Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Survey.
The report – Listening to Guardians – outlines the experience of Freedom to Speak Up guardians and how speaking up arrangements are being implemented in the healthcare sector.
While the majority of Freedom to Speak Up guardians who responded to the survey were positive about the speaking up culture in their organisation, there are warning signs that more action is needed.
It is positive to note that eighty-four per cent (84%) of respondents said their organisation was taking action to tackle barriers to speaking up, a nine-percentage point increase compared to the previous survey, and three-quarters of respondents said retaliation as a result of speaking up was not tolerated.
Almost two-thirds of respondents (66%) identified the concern that nothing will be done was a barrier to workers in their organisation speaking up. This is an 8-percentage point increase compared to responses previously (58% 2021), and puts feelings of futility on a par with the fear of detriment as the main barrier to speaking up.
As one Freedom to Speak Up Guardian said: “… it is hard in conversations with those who speak up about safe staffing levels as there isn’t the available staff and whilst short term fixes are generally found the bigger long-term issue is not addressed and… Speaking Up feels futile.”
Dr Jayne Chidgey-Clark, National Guardian for the NHS, said: “As the National Guardian for the NHS, I too am raising my voice alongside Freedom to Speak Up guardians to call for urgent action to be taken to focus on the wellbeing of the workforce.
“It takes time to build trust. These results show that nurturing a Speak Up culture is a long-game.
“This survey highlights the need for continuous attention to nurturing a speak up culture. This responsibility falls on everyone, requiring each conversation and action to contribute to fostering an environment where speaking up is highly valued and heard.
“It cannot be solely reliant on the efforts of Freedom to Speak Up guardians. It is only by us all making this our own personal responsibility, that we can make speaking up business as usual.”