Freedom to Speak Up policies have been around for a long time now.  Although it’s a term that we hear frequently, we know there are still cultures in health and social care where people don’t feel able to speak up. Or instances that when they do speak up, they are not heard.  

As a regulator, Care Quality Commission (CQC) has a critical role to play in speaking up. Not only do we assess organisational culture, but we also provide a clear route for health and social care professionals to talk to us and raise concerns about the care people receive.  

It’s not enough simply to listen. It is essential that we act. We often hear from health and social care staff who have tried to raise their concerns but don’t feel that anyone has listened to them. If you’ve spoken up before, you’ll know it takes courage. It’s not always an easy thing to do. More importantly we know the damage that can be done when someone speaks up and their concerns are not heard.  

Although we encourage people to speak to their line manager or follow their organisation’s freedom to speak up routes, people can also get in touch directly with CQC. If you’re employed by an organisation that we regulate and you have concerns about the care being provided, we want you to tell us. Your information is very important in helping us form a picture of how well the service cares for all the people who use it. 

Before contacting us, you may want to: 

  • speak to your line manager or a senior member of staff about your concerns. 
  • read your employer’s whistleblowing policy which will give you information on what to do next. 

If you feel that you can’t talk to someone in your organisation, our  quick guide to whistleblowing may be helpful. It offers advice on speaking out about poor care and what protection you will have from the law.  

As CQC changes and implements its new single assessment framework, you’ll see even more focus on regulation of freedom to speak up. It’s one of the key areas of focus for us when we assess the well led part of the single assessment framework. We’ll be looking for services that foster a positive culture where people feel that they can speak up and that their voice will be heard. It’s an essential part of ensuring the safety of all the people using services.