At Rotherham, Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, a concern was brought to the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian from a clinical worker. She had transferred to work in the organisation from a neighbouring trust and expressed concerns about the trust’s sickness policy.

The worker did not agree with the policy wording, which she felt was not appropriate to cover her absence, and said that the policy in practice had felt detrimental.

Dr Jude Graham, the trust’s guardian, arranged a meeting with the staff member. The worker expanded upon her concern, which was not solely about the policy but also about the support she received after returning to work from a family bereavement. The complexity of the issue also resulted in a breakdown in communication between the worker and her manager.

The policy, which was in use within another trust rather than RDaSH, was being used under the TUPE transfer agreement. Once the worker was shown the RDaSH trust policy, she asked to be supported using this, which she felt was more relevant to her situation. The staff member also advocated a review of the categories for absence listed on the electronic recording system.

Over three meetings, facilitated by Jude, the following changes were made:

  • The TUPE transfer process and
    other support for teams who are
    transferred has been reviewed.
  • The process for recording absence
    has been revised, specifically where
    absence is for a reason other than
    sickness and specifically where
    a staff member is bereaved.
  • Information has been made available
    for staff managers and clinical leaders
    to provide support to workers they
    supervise who are bereaved.

A staff focus group has also been established to support staff who may experience domestic violence. This group is designing teaching podcasts for managers and works with the safeguarding team to design a trust policy to support staff who experience domestic violence.

Jude said, “The clinician reflected that through the Freedom to Speak Up process, the actions taken enabled her to feel more supported by the organisation and helped her to reconnect with her managers.

“She explained that her experiences were taken seriously and felt assured that changes have been put in place to support others who may find themselves in a similar position. She would definitely speak up again in the future and also advocates this to others in her team and organisation.”

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]