Man looking at speech bubbles

Our governance

The National Guardian’s Office is jointly funded by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS England  (NHSE).

The National Guardian for the NHS reports annually to the boards of CQC and NHSE on the work of the NGO.

Accountability and Liaison Board


  • The overarching purpose of the ALB is to provide strategic advice to the National Guardian on all matters related to their work portfolio, acting as a link to the Boards of the sponsoring organisations.
  • To give assurance that the NGO operates in accordance with the DHSC/CQC Framework Agreement and relevant statutory obligations.
  • To provide leadership and advice to the NGO to promote achievement of the NGO’s purpose.
  • To oversee the implementation of the NGO’s strategic framework and business plan.

Responsibilities of the ALB are to:

  • Endorse the NGO’s financial and strategic objectives, including approval of the business plan.
  • Receive Speak Up Review reports and recommendations following sign off from the National Guardian.
  • Provide assurance that the NGO has adequate governance, assurance and risk management in place.
  • Be involved with the appointment of the National Guardian and succession plan.
  • Receive the NGO’s Annual Report.
  • Present an annual ALB Board report to CQC’s Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC).
  • Monitor the performance of the NGO via the NGO’s dashboard.
  • Receive and consider high level reports on matters material to the NGO.
  • Ensure the NGO promotes and safeguards the health and wellbeing of its workforce.
  • Promote and support development of partnerships with other organisations in accordance with the NGOs values and strategic direction.
  • Engage as appropriate with the NGO’s funding bodies, attending CQC / NHSE Board meetings as required.
  • Receive reports from the Partnership Working Group, and the NGO’s Senior Management Team concerning work within their Terms of Reference.
  • To provide effective financial stewardship.


ALB Members

Members of the Accountability and Liaison Board are representatives of the funding bodies of the National Guardian’s Office, led by an independent Chair.

Suzanne McCarthy

Suzanne McCarthy

Independent Chair

A lawyer by background, Suzanne has held several senior public sector positions including Chief Executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Chief Executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. Suzanne previously served as a Non-Executive Board member on the Boards of the General Medical Council, the Human Tissue Authority and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. She is currently the Independent Chair of the Fire Standards Board and the Chair of two charities. Her last Executive role was as the UK’s Immigration Services Commissioner.

Dr Ronke Akerele

Director of Culture Transformation, NHS England.

Adam McMordie

Deputy Director Quality, Patient Safety and Maternity, Department of Health and Social Care

Stephen Marston

Non-Executive Director, Care Quality Commission

Andrew Morris

Sir Andrew Morris OBE

Deputy Chair NHS England

Mark Sutton

Chief Digital Officer, CQC

Partnership Working Group

Members of the Partnership Working Group (PWG) are senior leaders drawn from the office’s funding bodies, NHSE and CQC, as well as the Department of Health and Social Care.


  • To oversee the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CQC, NHSE and NGO.
  • To provide clear and focused advice and guidance on emerging priorities.
  • To provide a liaison point within the funding organisations, ensuring that activities align and that commitment to continually support the NGO and its work is gained.

The responsibilities of the PWG are to:

  • Support the development and drafting of the NGO’s funding business case, and MoU between NHSE, CQC and NGO.
  • Provide strategic advice regarding the NGO’s activities which reflects changes in national policies and regulation.
  • Discuss changes to national policies and priorities regarding Freedom to Speak Up which have a material impact on the role of the NGO; provide advice on required changes to guidance, training materials and/or provision.
  • Review the organisation’s corporate risk register and escalate any risks as appropriate to the Accountability and Liaison Board.
Download the National Guardian's Office Corporate Governance Framework

National Guardian's Office Annual Reports

The National Guardian publishes an Annual Report which is laid before Parliament, to showcase good practice in speaking up, hold the system to account and advocate for cultural change in health.


Details of how to complain about the National Guardian's Office or a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian can be downloaded below. We view complaints as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future, as well as a chance to put things right for the person that has made the complaint.

Complaints about Freedom to Speak Up Guardians

Complaints about the National Guardian's Office

Please refer to our Corporate Complaints Policy