Leisa Gardiner, Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust is the only integrated acute, community, mental health and ambulance health care provider in England.

Our latest NHS Staff Survey results show that workers feel there has been a significant improvement in the quality of care, safety, and the health and wellbeing support on offer to all staff. Morale and engagement have improved with more people recommending the Trust as a place to work. Importantly we have also seen improvements across all four divisions in the safety culture.

There has been a real focus on creating an open and honest culture where communication is free flowing. Our aim is that everyone has an equal opportunity to speak up, no one is treated differently or discriminated against, that workers feel safe to speak up and action is taken. This has led to workers feeling valued and supported. This has been a real IOW NHS Team effort.

Headshot of Leisa Gardiner

The past 12 months have proved challenging, coping with a pandemic, but by ensuring workers know how and where to raise concerns and that they are appropriately supported has led to deeper engagement.

During October’s Speak Up Month, I hosted Microsoft Teams sessions for workers focusing on the importance of speaking up and patient safety. I felt this was crucial at that time due to the pandemic as workers naturally were concerned about patient safety and their working environment. Sessions included understanding how Freedom to Speak Up can influence an open and inclusive culture, psychological safety at work, and ‘silence isn’t safe’ – involving our people to inspire an open, honest and just culture.

I also joined the Health and Wellbeing Group and worked closely with the team to ensure we were doing everything we could to support workers during these challenging times.

As a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, being visible and available to workers and to listen to them when they speak up is key. I ensure I attend staff meetings including the junior doctors’ forum where I get an opportunity to listen and offer support where needed. I also recorded a video about how to raise a concern for workers and this is also shared at staff induction.

Maggie Oldham, Chief Executive at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said:

“Supporting our people to deliver high quality, compassionate care is a key part of our culture here.

“We are proactive, open and honest and this approach ensures that people can speak up when something isn’t right.

“It is so important that we create an environment where people are confident to question things because it helps us to learn and improve and in the end that is what delivers better care for our community.”