Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (SFH) is currently on a programme of improvement. The Trust had previously been rated inadequate by CQC, in 2015 and when Kerry Bosworth was appointed as Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, there were only 2 or 3 champions Trust-wide. Kerry began a drive to recruit more champions to help spread the Freedom to Speak Up message through all departments. Kerry sought to recruit a more diverse network of champions to increase visibility and workers were more ‘close to them’. Their goal was to ensure workers had the confidence and support required to speak up at an early stage pre-empting bigger concerns down the line.
The successful recruitment campaign gained 20 new champions across SFH including representatives from medical workers and senior management. Leadership at the Trust recognised the importance of the champion role in order to improve the culture within SFH. The board granted champions 7 hours a month of protected time in which to support the speak up culture.
Director of Strategy and Partnerships, David Ainsworth has been trained as a Freedom to Speak Up champion for the board. David commented “As someone who sits on the board at Sherwood Forest Hospitals, [this] is a position of great honour. It gives me privileged access to the overall vision and delivery of the trust. Whilst I myself am not at all hierarchical, I do recognise that my position comes with great responsibility. As a people person I want to create a safe space for colleagues. I can use my board position to be the voice of anyone who wishes to speak up/out. By doing so, I can change the conversation we have and improve the quality of our overall decision making. As well as caring for the individual.”
In order to raise the profile of the Freedom to Speak Up even further, Freedom to Speak Up is now mentioned every week in the CEO’s blog. Kerry has also staged a takeover edition which gained over 800 internal readers. Kerry meets with the CEO, Paul Robinson, every six weeks to discuss trending themes of concerns and positive feedback. This information is reported to the trust board twice a year and quarterly to the People, Culture and Improvement Committee.
The impact of this work is reflected in the shortlisting of SFH in the 2022 HSJ Awards as one of the 9 finalists for the ‘Freedom to Speak Up Organisation of the Year’ category. And results are also showing in the NHS Staff Survey responses for SFH. Improving for the fifth consecutive year, 78.5% of workers said they would feel secure in raising/reporting concerns at SFH. One worker fed back to the guardian saying: “The Freedom to Speak Up service is essential, and I would recommend the service to anyone who feels they cannot speak up or that they have tried but have not been listened to. If something does not feel right, we have a duty to speak up… Kerry [Freedom to Speak Up Guardian] very swiftly ensured that I was listened to, that my concerns were properly investigated, and the outcomes were shared with me.”
Kerry Bosworth, said “ I am proud of how our speak up culture has developed over the past year and being recognised nationally for all the hard work that Sherwood is doing to enable our colleagues to speak up to have the best work experience possible. Our champions have been a major part of our success in increasing visibility, enabling safe conversations and spreading the word that speaking up is about improvement and learning from experiences and I thank each and every one of the team for their commitment alongside their busy roles at Sherwood. With the engagement of our senior team and the support they give to Freedom to Speak Up, we are seeing a future where speaking up and listening becomes easier and part of normal business”