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Kirsty joins Northumbria as ‘freedom to speak up’ guardian

Friday, 27 January, 2017
Kirsty joins Northumbria as ‘freedom to speak up’ guardian

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has welcomed its first ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’ as part of its continued focus on openness, transparency and supporting staff to raise concerns.

A key recommendation from Sir Robert Francis’ review into the culture of raising concerns in the NHS, ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardians’ across the NHS are there to support staff in raising genuine concerns about their work.

Kirsty Dickson, who has worked in the NHS for 20 years, took up the role in October last year. Her position is completely independent from the trust and as ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’, she is there to offer independent advice and support to help NHS staff working across Northumberland and North Tyneside feel confident in raising any concerns freely and safely.

As part of her role, Kirsty offers full support to any member of staff raising a concern and can assist in escalating any issues where needed, acting as a conduit to ensure any problems are resolved. 

Commenting on her role, Kirsty, who has worked in dental nursing, oral health promotion and occupational health, said: “I am really enjoying being at Northumbria and have been out and about meeting lots of fantastic staff across Northumberland and North Tyneside over the past few months as I get to know the organisation.

“It is abundantly clear that there is already a very strong supportive and open culture at the trust which puts the needs of patients first.  This is something I hope to enhance ever further by being there to support individual members of staff, or teams, if they need a confidential conversation about a concern with someone who is independent from the organisation.”

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is recognised as one of the most open and transparent organisations in the NHS with latest staff survey results showing the trust as THE best acute hospital trust in the NHS on several measures used to assess levels of staff engagement, including:

·         staff feeling secure about raising concerns about unsafe clinical practice 

·         fairness and effectiveness of procedures for reporting errors, near misses and incidents

·         organisational interest in (and action on) staff health and wellbeing 

In March 2016, the trust was also ranked as the very best trust in the NHS when it comes to the levels of openness and transparency which exist amongst its teams and Kirsty’s appointment will only strengthen processes and systems already in place.

David Evans, chief executive at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Over many years we have placed great importance on creating an open, positive and inclusive culture where any member of staff feels freely able to raise any concerns about patient safety, or any aspect of patient care, or experience.

“We’re really delighted to welcome Kirsty who is already playing a really important role.  There has never been a more important time for us to have someone like Kirsty working alongside us to make sure we swiftly respond to and act upon any concerns from our staff, especially as services are so busy and we know the pressures on our staff are high.

“Kirsty’s role is helping us to build on our strong foundations as we strive to do even more to ensure we look after the needs and wellbeing of our workforce and continue to provide the highest standards of care for our patients.”

In July 2015, the Secretary of State confirmed the steps needed to be taken to develop a culture of safety, and supported Sir Robert’s recommendations which followed his review and subsequent report into the failings in Mid-Staffordshire.

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, a role which is completely independent and governed by the Care Quality Commission, do not get involved in investigations or complaints, but help to facilitate the raising concerns process where needed, ensuring organisational policies are followed correctly.


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