In August and September 2017 the National Guardian’s Office conducted a review of the speaking up processes, policies and culture at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust. This was because it had received information that the trust’s response to its workers speaking up was not in accordance with good practice.

In particular, the National Guardian’s Office received information that a bullying and discriminatory culture existed across the trust.

The purpose of the review was to find evidence of where speaking up process, policies and culture did not meet with good practice and to make recommendations to remedy this. The trust fully supported the review and provided all necessary information for its completion. The review found evidence that the culture, policies and procedures of the trust did not always support workers to speak up, including evidence of a bullying culture. Many workers who spoke to the National Guardian’s Office during the review expressed a belief that the trust did not take their views or concerns seriously.

The review also found that the trust did not appropriately support the needs of its black and ethnic minority workers, including a failure to respond to multiple and serious concerns raised by many of those workers.

However, there was also evidence at the time of our review that a new trust leadership team was taking steps to improve the trust’s speaking up processes, policies and culture, including a revision of the existing speaking up policy to bring it in line with national minimum standards set by NHS Improvement.

Where we found evidence that the trust’s support for speaking up was not in accordance with good practice we have made recommendations to improve this. We have made 23 recommendations in total; 22 for the trust and one for the Care Quality Commission. We will ask the trust to develop an action plan to address these recommendations.


Read the report and recommendations