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Whistleblowing helpline for Cardiff NHS staff


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”

Maria Battle

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”

Mike Jones

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.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

Whistleblowing helpline for Cardiff NHS staff

Ruth Walker

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:

University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

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University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff

  • 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
  • Finally, if you’ve tried all other options contact the Safety Valve through the chair’s office on 02920 745684

Readers' comments (2)

  • michael stone

    Fine for what I can see, but there has to be a method of raising a concern 'genuinely anonymously' and I'm not sure if there is one, in that system ?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • to aled jones, ruth walker, maria battle and anyone reading this message
    OMG ... i raised my concern alongside another staff member of cardiff & vale UHB about a verbally abusive and unprofessional nurse manager to our directorate manager (sept 2011) nurse manager went off sick until jan '12. NOTHING WAS DONE ABOUT OUR COMPLAINTS.

    HOWEVER - this is what followed. in april '12 the directorate manager alongside nurse manager (we will call her no 2) both just returned from leave undertook an INFORMAL meeting with myself 15 mins prior to the end of my working day - no prior notice, no HR/union and all my colleagues sent home at 4.30 (no staff on duty and we covered the entire hospital in the event of an emergency) i was told x2 colleagues had instigated formal complaints against me, they were serious, i was to be met and taken the next day to work elsewhere whist being investigated - terrified i met with my GP and was put on sick leave where i stayed until aug 2014 when i was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

    my story .... new nurse was alleged to have made the complaints (x5) taking her to the allegations listed on the ONLY DOCUMENT produced by CAVUHB (email 3.5 months into the investigation from the untrained former work college of directorate manager and chair of disciplinary hearing = nepotism, but CAVUHB dont agree) during the employment tribunal in 2015 she said 'these are not my allegations' oh lordy i think (of course i knew they were never her allegations) due to being in receipt of my personal file (post DPSAR) in which x3 of my former colleagues had written 'file notes in 2011 x2 & 2012 x1) which were now deemed allegations from new nurse lol but not really.... i was summarily dismissed in aug 2014 for gross misconduct on her allegations (the one's that were not hers, so i guess this could be perceived as a miscarriage of justice, but she would possibly not want to expose that and is hopefully enjoying working with those who set her up? i dont know cos i dont work there anymore ... cos i was dismissed post 10 yrs of employment which ended my 30 yr career due to not being able to revalidate my registration (not surprising there is a shortage of us).
    post tribunal in which i was substantively unfairly dismissed (look it up as opposed to procedurally unfairly) = i was successful as a litigant against CAVUHB who at the taxpayers expense brought in (as they do) barrister & solicitor, but they were unsuccessful - HAPPY DAYS TO ALL LITIGANTS.

    I retired (financial reasons due to unable to work as a RGN) but since my struggle for justice (and continuing via EAT) i have learned and have a deep interest in employment law (esp whistle blowers within the NHS).

    IF YOU ARE OUT THERE I am happy to listen and help (i will be upfront and truthful)

    i am very available to speak to alex, maria and or ruth regarding my message and of course the conduct and behaviour of the staff involved in my case, as said i will be upfront and truthful - this is something managers, HR et al are not comfortable with

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