A concern was emailed to Jude Graham, the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber Trust, because workers were unclear about who may best help with a concern about two services rather than one.

The team had become concerned following the co-location of two quite different services – one for young people with sexual health issues and the other which was typically attended by older adults.

Clinic staff and administrators suggested they witnessed disgruntled patients and relatives making comments concerning the patient mix and the issues being discussed. Although no direct patient safety issues had occurred, they felt that the disharmony and the potential risk needed addressing.

Managers from each service were asked to attend a thinking session to address this concern, which all clinical and administrative workers also attended.

“The care group leads were very supportive that all workers, including reception area workers, were included in finding solutions for the issues as they often see a different perspective in terms of patient experience and room use. They see areas where groups interact, whereas clinicians often just see the patient or family alone,” said Jude.

The room use, co-location issues, clinic timings and team interaction were discussed openly and solutions reviewed.

The timings of appointments and room use systems were altered to enable the clinics to run at different times, therefore reducing the risk of problematic encounters in the waiting areas.

The team felt that their concerns were taken seriously, the new arrangements were put in place to reduce risk and enable continued service. “No appointments were lost and patient satisfaction increased in both clinics. The team managers were appreciative that all workers, including administrators, felt able to share their perspective,” said Jude. “The overall risk of patient conflict was reduced, and workers’ satisfaction increased, as a more agreeable solution was reached in terms of working arrangements, although the services continued to be co-located which was not to everyone’s satisfaction.”

Jude said workers felt their voice had “made a difference” and they were pleased they had spoken up. She added: “They told me that they joined the NHS to help patients. Even though some workers involved in raising the concern were not clinical members of staff, they feel that their contribution has helped the patients attending both clinics to feel more relaxed when attending appointments.

“The workers used the Freedom to Speak Up route, not because they had concerns about their relationships with the line managers of either service, but because they were confused about which service they should speak up to and the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian enabled them to resolve the issue.”

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]