A speaking up case at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust presented the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian with an opportunity to improve cross-team communication. When a worker spoke up to John Verity about COVID-19 biosecurity, he was able to reassure all workers and share useful helplines for future queries.

During the early stages of the pandemic, a worker approached John to speak up about a potential COVID-19 biosecurity issue. The worker, who was speaking up on behalf of themselves and other workers, was concerned about the air conditioning (AC) units at one of the trust’s outpatient facilities which linked via corridors into the Community Teamwork-bases. The workers wanted to know whether the air circulated by these units was compromising worker and service-user safety due to COVID-19. They were worried that the units could compromise the trust’s COVID-safe environment and wanted to know whether the units were being checked for COVID-19 compliance.

John has open-door access to the trust’s Estates Team and was able to get confirmation that all areas in the trust are COVID-safe, including the AC units, which are run on a regular maintenance cycle. 

The assurance provided by the Estates and Facilities Team was then shared with the Trust Command Teams with regards COVID-safety. Colleagues were happy that the air circulated did not compromise worker and service-user safety and complied with the trust’s COVID-safe environment. They were also reassured that the units were checked regularly.

The Estates and Facilities Team also gave a further assurance that their dedicated helpdesk was available to answer any queries and their contact details were forwarded to the person who spoke up.

John realised that, due to remote working, some workers might not have immediate access to the direct helpdesk numbers, such as the Estates and Facilities Team. Where they previously might have had the number in a notebook or on post-it notes, so colleagues would need to search the intranet for the relevant team page. John contacted the trust’s Communications Team and discussed possible ways to get helpline numbers regularly recirculated. Helpdesk numbers are now regularly shared via the trust’s COVID-19 bulletins.

Not only were all three parts of the speaking up case resolved, but John was able to use this speaking up case to make an organisation-wide improvement for all.

Reflecting on this case, John said, “It is very important where possible to have psychological and environmental safety at work, as seen with this speaking up case. I was very pleased to find a simple solution which eased a lot of uncertainty at this time.”

This case study features as part of our 100 Voices campaign. If you would like to share a speaking up story for this campaign, please contact [email protected] for more information.