A ward clerk contacted a Freedom to Speak Up Champion at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust because they felt vulnerable and bullied and concerned for their job.

They had been chasing discharge forms for a patient who had transport booked for the following day. Because the discharge forms were not ready in time, a request to change the transport time was made. As a result, the care package for the patient was delayed by seven days.

The discharge team member mistakenly thought the ward clerk had delayed the care package. She was very angry and berated them on the phone, accusing the clerk of cancelling the care. When the clerk denied this, they were accused of lying.

The clerk told the champion that they felt undermined and were anxious that they would lose their job. The clerk’s concerns were relayed to Suzanne Hamilton, the trust’s Freedom to Speak Up Guardian.

The guardian spoke to the HR business partner. “Initially they said there was no obligation for the discharge team member to apologise; this was frustrating for the worker who had spoken up,” said Suzanne. “But when the issue was fed back to the discharge planning lead, she came and apologised in person to the clerk and this went very well.”

The clerk is now more confident in their job and was empowered to speak up again.“I am glad that we were able to facilitate such a positive outcome,” said Suzanne. “It shows that a more open approach to apologising should be encouraged, and the HR department are working on a reconciliation policy rather than a grievance policy going forward.”

This case study was part of our 100 Voices publication which accompanied the 2019 Annual Report.

Case studies are vital to illustrate the good work of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. We encourage all organisations to share the learning from their speaking up stories.

If you have a Freedom to Speak Up story to share, please send an email to [email protected]