A 24-hour helpline and campaign to help staff speak up is being launched by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Freedom to Speak Up Safely will encourage staff to raise concerns and managers to listen and respond to them, said the board.
“I want this to be a listening organisation”
It follows the Safety Valve initiative – a previous process led by the board’s chair, Maria Battle, for staff who felt concerns were going unheard.
Ms Battle said staff who had used the process were glad they had spoken out and the new helpline and other support would help build on that success.
She said: “There is a culture of people being heard but I think there persists a culture where they may not be listened to and concerns acted upon, and that’s why it’s important we have the Freedom to Speak Up Safely process where there is a helpline and there is support.
“I want this to be a listening organisation,” she said. “One that actually resolves issues, fixes them and makes things happen.”
“We all have an obligation to look into every matter”
As part of the work to improve support for those raising and hearing concerns, a workshop was held with staff from all levels.
It identified a number of common themes, including that some staff felt fearful and vulnerable about raising concerns and that it was hard to raise issues that no one else was raising.
The response has been developed involving staff, professional bodies and experts from Cardiff University.
Dr Aled Jones, senior lecturer at the university’s School of Health and Social Science, said the new approach was focussed on learning, not criticism.
“Those organisations that have brought in this approach find they learn a great deal for improving things for employees and patients, so it’s a win win,” he said.
Mike Jones, chair of the board’s staff representatives group, said professional bodies had played an active role in the work and fully supported Freedom to Speak Up Safely.
Whistleblowing helpline for Cardiff NHS staff
He said: “We all have an obligation to look into every matter that has been raised. It’s important that we work together. It makes it a far better place to work. This can be a fantastic place to work.”
The new process includes materials and a short film about the benefits of speaking up and advice on how to do it.
Ruth Walker, the health board’s chief nurse, called on staff with concerns to “be brave”.
“If you were a patient or this was you or one of yours and you don’t feel that care is right you need to speak out. If it’s not good enough for you and yours, it’s not good enough for any other patient,” she said.
The board’s process for raising an issue or concern:
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- Speak at first, if they can, to their line manger
- If that is not appropriate or doesn’t work then escalate it to a senior manager, your clinical board or to a board member
- Or you can telephone the helpline on 02921 846000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Finally, if you’ve tried all other options contact the Safety Valve through the chair’s office on 02920 745684