Joanne Burton Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust “I am really pleased with how the Lets Talk Sessions are going ,they are really well attended and are frequently the starting point for a speak up conversation.”

Acting on feedback, Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Joanne Burton, sought to increase visibility and accessibility of Senior Executive Leaders. 

Joanne received feedback from workers that were missing the opportunity to talk to the executive team as they normally would on Trust walkabouts, within their clinical areas. This stopped dure to the pandemic. It was important to the Freedom to Speak Up team that workers felt connected to the senior leadership and felt they could speak up to anyone in order to promote a healthy speaking up culture. 

Taking this on board, for Speak Up Month 2021, Joanne hosted a number of online events called ‘Let’s Talk Sessions’. Held on teams, this promoted networking across all departments within the trust and gave her colleagues an opportunity to speak up directly with members of our Trust Executive team.  Each webinar, Joanne invited a different member of the executive team to join, as well as an open invitation to the Non-Executive lead, the chair and the Chief executive all of whom regularly dropped in on the call too. The invitation was extended to all workers as an opportunity to get to know each member of the Executive team. This improved accessibility and visibility of senior leaders by way on introduction to what their day to day work looks like and reaffirm their support for anyone to speak up to them. 

On these calls, workers shared their views with the guests and the wider group which normally resulted in some actions for Joanne and the guest in order to improve the workers’ day to day working life. Some examples of matters raised on these calls have been car parking costs, broken water dispensers and the cost-of-living crisis. The sessions provided an informal friendly space for conversations to happen, and information to be given. 

Joanne committed to feeding back to individuals following these calls to enable them to feel listened to. The general concerns raised were often followed up on in videos, trust communications and at the Trust monthly Team Talk. 

The sessions also improved communication on a one-to-one basis with Joanne as colleagues felt more comfortable speaking up to Joanne after being introduced through a ‘Let’s Talk Session’. One worker said: ‘These sessions are a really good way to get to know members of the Exec team, putting a face to a name is really useful’ 

Joanne has received great feedback about the sessions, with a lot of colleagues requesting that they continue. As a result of the popularity of the sessions, the Executive team have also now resumed their face-to-face walkabouts throughout the hospital, alongside the online sessions which now run regularly on a monthly basis.