Annual Speaking Up Data summary

Over 20,000 cases have been brought to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians throughout 2021/22, but levels of anonymity are reducing

Covid cell image: Worker safety was a strong theme in Freedom to Speak Up guardians’ reflections on the data they provide, with the impact of reduced staffing levels included in patient safety concerns, increased workloads and staff wellbeing. This theme was particularly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to increased sickness, from COVID-19 itself and from stress/burnout.

Speaking up cases remain at pandemic levels

The number of cases brought to Freedom to Speak Up guardians in 2021/22  remains at the record level set in 2020/21 (20,362, compared with 20,388 in 2020/21).

 

20,362 cases brought to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in 2021/22

The percentage of cases which were raised anonymously has reduced to ten percent (10.4%). This continues the downward trajectory from 2017, when 17.7% of cases were raised anonymously.

Nineteen per cent (19.1%) of cases raised included an element of patient safety/quality, a slight increase from 18% in 2020/21.

In response to concerns being raised during the pandemic, the National Guardian’s Office introduced a new reporting category of worker safety in 2021/22.  Over the year, 13.7% of cases had an element of worker safety.

Poor behaviour remains a cause for concern, with the highest proportion of cases – over a third (32.3%) – including an element of behaviours, such as bullying/harassment. This is a rise from 30.1% last year.

To better understand the nature of these behaviours being reported, from April 2022, the National Guardian’s Office will be replacing this category with two new categories: bullying and harassment, and elements of inappropriate attitudes or behaviours.

Despite the improvement in levels of anonymity, of concern is the rise in reported detriment for speaking up, which was indicated in 4.3% of cases, a rise from 3.1% in 2020/21.

Latest figures

On a quarterly basis, Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are expected to share non-identifiable information with the National Guardian’s Office about the speaking up cases raised with them. This information provides invaluable insight into the implementation of Freedom to Speak Up.

For an in depth look at the data reported to the NGO from 2021/22 and 2020/21 please see below

2021/22 speaking up data (Excel)

Annual Speaking Up Data Reports

These reports reflect trends and themes from the speaking up data in previous years.

  • Between 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, over twenty thousand (20,388) cases were raised with Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. This was a 26-percentage point increase from the previous year.
  • Guardians received over 16,000 speaking up cases in 2019/20 – an increase of 32% compared to the previous year. This is nearly half of the 35,000 cases raised with guardians since we started collecting data in 2017/18.
  • 12,244 cases were raised to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in trusts and Foundation trusts between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019 – 73% higher than that raised the previous year.
  • For the first year in which we collected data – 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 – 7,087 cases were raised to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS trusts and foundation trusts

The year of the pandemic: A summary of speaking up to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians

Speaking Up Data report for 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021

Annual Speaking Up Data Report 2019-20

A summary of speaking up to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians

Annual Speaking Up Data Report 2018-19

Speaking up in the NHS in England: A summary of speaking up to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS trusts and foundation trusts

Annual Speaking Up Data Report 2017-18

Speaking up in the NHS in England A summary of speaking up to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS trusts and foundation trusts

Why is speaking up data important?

The data Freedom to Speak Up Guardians submit provides invaluable insight into the implementation of the Freedom to Speak Up.

The data also helps provide confidence – and assists in learning and improvement – for the colleagues and organisations they support, and other Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.

NHS England use this data, along with other indicators and intelligence, to inform their thinking around where to offer improvement support in relation to Freedom to Speak Up.

NHS England also upload this information to the Model Health System. Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and leaders can use this service to build a more holistic picture of their organisation’s speaking up culture.

Upcoming dates for data submissions

Q1 (2022/23):  Monday 1st August 2022 and closes on Friday 26th August 2022

Q2 (2022/23): Opens Monday 10 October 2022 and closes Monday 31 October 2022

Q3 (2022/23): Opens Monday 9 January 2023 and closes Monday 30 January 2023

Q4 (2022/23): Opens Monday 10 April 2023 and closes Tuesday 2 May 2023

Guardians will be able to add or amend data from 2022/23 during the reconciliation period, which will run alongside the Q4 window.

Portal

Case Study

The use of data played a major role in  Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust ’s efforts to improve their speaking up culture as Matt Asbrey, former Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at NHFT explains.

By triangulating the data provided from speaking up cases raised, pulse surveys and the results of the NHS National Staff Survey, Matt was able to better understand the experience of workers and identify areas for learning and improvement.

Read More

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