Trust’s system for staff to raise concerns sparks award nomination

Efforts to allow staff to raise any concerns about their working environment has been nominated for a top national award.

By David Sedgwick
Friday, 27th August 2021, 3:04 pm
Kirsty Dickson,  Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) guardian.
Kirsty Dickson, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) guardian.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals and community services in Northumberland and North Tyneside, has been shortlisted in the Freedom to Speak up Organisation of the Year category at the HSJ (Health Service Journal) Awards 2021.

Every NHS trust has a Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) guardian, whose role is to support staff in raising genuine concerns about their work.

Kirsty Dickson, who has been the trust’s FTSU guardian for almost five years, said: “I’m delighted that Freedom to Speak Up – The Northumbria Way has been recognised in this way, as it’s something that I passionately believe really makes a difference to patient and staff experience.

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“Last year, there were 193 speak-ups, an increase of about 30 on the previous year, and a good number of those concerns at least would not have been raised without our system in place, which staff are really positive about.

"Very few of these speak-ups were anonymous, far fewer than the national average, which reflects well on the open and transparent culture that exists within the Trust.

“During the pandemic, I have focused even more on alternative methods such as social media to ensure that staff remained confident that they could raise any issues.”

Despite the demanding circumstances of the past 18 months, more than 1,000 entries have been received for this year’s HSJ Awards, with 205 organisations, projects and individuals making it to the final shortlist.

HSJ editor Alistair McLellan said: “On behalf of all my colleagues, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate Northumbria Healthcare on being nominated in the category of Freedom to Speak up Organisation of the Year in this year’s HSJ Awards.

“This year, we really have been overwhelmed with the level of entries, particularly when set against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the huge challenges faced by our health and social care workforce.

“We are therefore looking forward to welcoming all our finalists to the live ceremony in November and joining us in celebrating their incredible achievements and commitment to excellence.”

The winners will be announced on November 18.