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The Freedom to Speak Up Review was announced on 24 June by the Secretary of State for Health and is led by Sir Robert Francis QC. It is an independent review into creating the open and honest reporting culture in the NHS.

In his introductory message, Sir Robert Francis QC says

This Review is not about deciding on past judgements and I realise that I am asking something quite difficult of people; that they tell me about their personal experiences of making disclosures in the public interest without me being able to do anything to resolve their individual cases. Nonetheless I hope that people will come forward to the Review and share their views and experiences in order to help inform better practice in the future.”

About the review

The review gathered information in a number of ways:

An invitation to share experiences and ideas

  • We asked everyone with an interest to share their experiences of speaking up, both good and bad, and their views on what would help to remove the obstacles and create the right environment for an open and honest reporting culture. The call for contributions closed on Wednesday 10 September.
  • Sir Robert then invited some of those who contributed to interviews to share more about their experience and ideas. These meetings were private and informal in nature. Unfortunately it was not be possible for him to meet everyone who wrote to him.

Research projects

  • A confidential survey was sent to all NHS workers, employers and associated organisations. It is being undertaken for the review by Professor David Lewis of Middlesex University. This work will be completed by the end of September.
  • A desktop review of whistleblowing policies compared practice in the NHS with other sectors and countries.
  • Confidential, in-depth interviews were held with a representative sample of interested parties. These sought views and attitudes to whistleblowing and the perceived barriers to raising concerns in the NHS. The research was led by Dr Wim Vandekerckhove, University of Greenwich during August and September.
  • For more detail on the research projects read our short briefing paper.


Four seminars were held with individuals and representatives of relevant organisations to discuss issues and emerging themes. These took place during October and November.

Report to the Secretary of State

Using the evidence gathered from the research and from the personal experiences and views shared with us, Sir Robert will make recommendations to the Secretary of State for Health. Read Sir Robert’s report here.

Terms of reference and procedures protocol

Terms of reference for the review are published on the Department of Health’s website. Our procedures protocol states how the review will be conducted.

The Team

Sir Robert Francis QC, Chair

Professor Katherine Fenton OBE, Nursing Advisor

Professor Norman Williams, Medical Advisor

Dr Peter Homa CBE, NHS Chief Executive Advisor

Joanna Donaldson, Director, Review Secretariat

Review Secretariat

Cheryl Cavanagh – Deputy to the Director
Tracey Eckersley – Deputy to the Director
Amy Key – Head of Communications
Simon Lynch – Legal Advisor
Joseph Smith – Knowledge Management and Governance
Rosena Hynes – Secretariat Support