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'It was a fantastic day for the Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign yesterday'


I was invited by Rob Webster and Stuart Poynor, chief executives of Leeds Community Health and Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust, respectively, to speak to 19 community trust chief executives at their London meeting.

En masse, they all agreed to sign up and pledge their support to the campaign.

Many of them are running their own initiatives to encourage staff to raise concerns when they think something is wrong, but I urged them all to use Speak Out Safely as a national pledge to give weight to their local campaigns.

Of course, making an explicit and public commitment like this is just the start of your journey to having an open and transparent organisation.

We don’t want this to be a tick-box exercise, where you put up our SOS logo (fabulously purple though it is) and a pledge, and forget about it. What we’ve discovered while we’ve been working on this campaign is that having a candid and honest culture involves everyone in the organisation from the top down role modeling behaviours they want to see. Encouraging and supporting staff when they raise concerns, taking prompt action and giving them feedback. Chief executives must get out into their wards or units and meet their staff. Visits should be unannounced, doors of the board members should be open. Don’t wait for the complaints and issues to come to you. Go out and seek them. Because you will find them.

As Stuart said in the meeting yesterday, if you think you haven’t got a problem in your organisation, you probably have.

So if you’re running your own raising concerns policy, great. But join forces with us and make it stronger. Let working with us and a national commitment from all trusts strengthen your commitment and your focus.

If you’ve not signed up to Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign yet, why not? Details of how to do it are on It’s easy, and it will improve the lives of your staff and patients. We’ve no doubt about that.

Jenni Middleton, editor
Follow me on Twitter: @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (4)

  • tinkerbell

    Well done Jenni. What a great response! Keep up the good work.

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  • George Kuchanny

    Quite so Jenni and Tinkerbell.

    In with Informed Consent, Patient Centered Care, acandid and honest culture and out with dodgy paternalism and the mushroom treatment (keep the patient in the dark).

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  • I work in a trust that has recently adopted the Speak Out Safely logo but I remain unconvinced. I complained about the behaviour of a doctor a while back and everyone agreed there was an issue but when it came to the crunch the whole thing was brushed under the carpet. The individual retired and has now been brought back as a locum; his behaviour remains the same. I may be a cynic but I'd like to see some real change before I'm convinced by the logo.

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  • challenging somebody's behaviour or poor practice or other reasons a complainant needs to speak to them first. far too many people go behind another's back and talk about them first or report them to somebody more 'senior'. no wonder they don't achieve the expected outcomes when this happens and small problems can end up being blown out of all proportion with unpleasant and unwanted consequences. open, transparent and fair communications from the outset so to clarify what others think can avoid many misinterpretations and misunderstandings and can help create a more trusting and motivating learning environment.

    we all learn from one another whether we recognise and accept it or not so it is best done in an open and honest way with no nasty surprises and mountains made out of molehills and a safer environment for everybody.

    too often people learn of dissatisfaction about their performance or their errors through others and not from the person who has raised the issues and if these observations are incorrect or unjust they have less chance of clarifying the situation or defending their actions or discovering better ways of doing things. often they may be based on only one small mistake, something which nobody is spared from. any errors should also be admitted and corrected as soon as possible to avoid further errors or a situation spiralling out of control. small errors can be corrected before they become serious and everybody makes them.

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