New report shows positive “speaking up” culture in independent healthcare

Independent healthcare providers have seen a greater improvement in the “speaking up” culture in their organisation over the last year compared with other parts of the healthcare sector, according to the latest report from the National Guardian’s Office (NGO).

Surveying over 300 Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, the report found that almost four fifths (78%) of respondents from independent healthcare providers said their organisation’s “speaking up” culture had improved over the last twelve months. This compared to 74% for respondents from NHS Trusts, and 65% of those from the hospice sector.

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in the independent sector were also found to devote more of their time on the “proactive” aspects of their role – such as working within their organisation to tackle barriers to speaking up – than the reactive aspects, e.g. supporting workers who speak up to them. Over 70% of Guardians in the independent sector spend at least half of their time focussing on “proactive” aspects, compared with just over 50% of those from NHS Trusts and other parts of the healthcare sector.

All providers of NHS services subject to the NHS Standard Contract are obligated to have a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, and there are already almost 200 working in the independent health sector. IHPN are looking to build on this work and are calling for all independent providers to appoint a Guardian if they haven’t already done so. This latest report from the National Guardian’s Office also calls on senior leaders in all healthcare providers to complete the NGO/HEE ‘speak up, listen up, follow up’ training to improve their ability to act as effective role-models for speaking up.

Dawn Hodgkins, Director of Regulation at the Independent Healthcare Providers Network (IHPN) said:

“In helping promote a much more open and transparent culture in the health service, Freedom to Speak Up Guardians play an absolutely vital role in improving safety and the quality of care delivered to patients, and we encourage all independent healthcare providers to appoint a Guardian.

“While there’s still more to do on this agenda, it’s encouraging to see independent healthcare Guardians working so proactively in the sector, with continual improvement in the “speaking up culture” which is so important in supporting the delivery of the best possible patient care.”