Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust covers many sites across the North East of England, including eight hospitals. Each hospital has many administrative teams and departments. All had their own stockpile of stationery.

Throughout the trust, there were also many different types of printers, meaning there were different types of expensive printer ink which often could not be shared between departments. Some
printers required toner worth £320 to be kept in each small department.

Annette Benoist, an administration support officer, felt that too much money was being wasted on stationery resources and contacted Neil Cockling, their Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. Administration and stationery purchasing decisions had been devolved to all the managers of separate teams in the trust, so she was unsure who to speak up to in order to have the issue looked at.

Neil raised the issue with the trust’s Director of Finance, who immediately commissioned an external review of stationery resources. This found that there were indeed thousands of pounds tied up in stationery cupboards.

The trust has now moved to centralised provision of stationery with standardised printers across the organisation so that no departments need to keep stockpiles of expensive ink for
outdated and inefficient printers.

“As a result of Annette speaking up, the trust expects to save £200,000 a year on printer ink alone, with approximately a further £200,000 per year being saved on all stationery costs as a result of the entire investigation into centralised stationery buying,” said Neil. “This case has highlighted to me – as Freedom to Speak Up Guardian – that nothing is too small to speak up about to make a difference.”

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]