The Freedom to Speak Up Review was a review into whistleblowing in the NHS in England. It was announced on 24 June 2014 and it was chaired by Sir Robert Francis. The review was originally expected to report in November 2014 but took longer because of a huge volume of input material: 17,500 online responses and 600 postal responses.
The report was published on 11 February 2015.
Francis outlined twenty principles and associated actions, then concluded by making just two recommendations:
- for all NHS organisations and regulators to implement all the principles and actions;
- for the Secretary of State to review progress annually.
The twenty principles to allow a consistent approach to raising concerns, while still allowing some flexibility, included:
- Culture of raising concerns - to make raising issues a part of normal routine business of any well-led NHS organisation.
- Culture free from bullying - freedom of staff to speak out relies on staff being able to work in a culture which is free from bullying.
- Training - every member of staff should receive training in their trust's approach to raising concerns and in receiving and acting on them.
- Support - all NHS trusts should ensure there is a dedicated person to whom concerns can be easily reported and without formality, a "Freedom to Speak Up Guardian" .
- Support to find alternative employment in the NHS - where a worker who has raised a concern cannot, as a result, continue their role, the NHS should help them seek an alternative job.
The National Guardian’s Office is an independent, non-statutory body with the remit to lead culture change in the NHS, so that speaking up becomes "business as usual". The office is sponsored by the Care Quality Commission, NHS England and NHS Improvement.
In January 2016 Eileen Sills was appointed as the first Freedom to Speak Up National Guardian for the NHS. She resigned two months later, citing that she did not have sufficient time to combine this role with her other work. Dr Henrietta Hughes was appointed as the second Freedom to Speak Up National Guardian in July 2016.
- "Freedom to Speak Up Review". webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Archived from the original on 2015-02-18. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Campbell, Denis (11 February 2015). "NHS whistleblowers report offers no prescription for ending cover-up culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 January 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- Walsh, Peter (November 2014). "Francis's Freedom to Speak Up review: An openness and transparency revolution or just another report?". Clinical Risk. 20 (6): 128. doi:10.1177/1356262215575958.
- Patrick Sawer, Laura Donnelly The Telegraph (11 February 2015) Whistleblowing: 'It's still not safe for us to speak out'
- www.nationalguardian.org.uk https://www.nationalguardian.org.uk/about-the-ngo/. Retrieved 2019-10-29. Missing or empty
- Dame Eileen Sills Archived 2016-01-26 at the Wayback Machine Care Quality Commission website 7 Jan 2016
- CQC appoints first National Guardian for the freedom to speak up in the NHS Care Quality Commission website 7 Jan 2016
- The National Freedom to Speak Up Guardian for the NHS Archived 2016-01-26 at the Wayback Machine Care Quality Commission website 7 Jan 2016
- Quinn, Ben (7 March 2016). "NHS's first 'national guardian' resigns after two months" – via The Guardian.
- Care Quality Commission, New National Guardian appointed to lead the NHS in speaking up freely and safely, 7 July 2016