The National Guardian for the NHS has spent the past year promoting ‘freedom to speak up guardians’ in a bid to foster open culture in healthcare, and in the coming year her focus will be on primary care. NHS England has recently trebled the funding to her office -– with a view to branching out to primary care.
There are more than 1,000 ‘freedom to speak up guardians’ across healthcare workplaces, including within the GMC and the Ombudsman’s Office, while the CQC has included ‘freedom to speak up’ within its inspection regime.
Meanwhile, more than 11,000 cases were brought to the guardians over the past year, and she will be promoting the ‘Speak Up Month’ campaign in October.
Her focus in the past year has been on NHS settlement agreements – something she felt needed to be addressed following case reviews, giving evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee on sexual harassment and hearing from Zelda Perkins, Harvey Weinstein’s assistant. Guidance for workers on signing settlement agreements was included as part of the NHS standard contract.
Dr Hughes lists her favourite moment as ‘hearing from a midwife… knowing that she can raise issues through the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian has had a truly positive impact by preventing harm to patients and supporting staff to speak up and be heard’.
Why influential: Fostering an open culture within primary care
Surprising fact: When she was a child, her family sold their house to David Essex