I write this on the eve of our first Freedom to Speak Up Review seminar, where I am bringing together individuals and organisations to discuss issues relating to raising concerns. I’m going into this seminar armed with lots of suggestions and thoughts shared with me in various meetings over the past couple of weeks.
I’ve met with a number of individuals who have experiences of raising concerns. The purpose of the meetings is not to investigate individual cases. I have invited people to tell me more about their experience so that I can ask questions about what would have made a difference and led to a better outcome for them. These meetings have been held on a confidential basis; it is for individuals to decide if they wish to be open about their involvement with the review. Some of these conversations have been distressing and I commend the bravery people have shown in being willing to talk through difficult experiences and their ideas for improvements.
The Royal College of Nursing hosted a meeting of student nurses who shared some shocking stories with me, but also, very importantly, suggested ways in which things could be improved and a more open culture could be promoted in the NHS. Later in the month I am joining similar meetings with trainee doctors and medical professionals from black and minority ethnic groups, to learn more about their experiences.
I’ve met with organisations with particular insights into raising concerns in the NHS, for example Patients First, Public Concern At Work, Unison, the General Medical Council and the Royal College of Midwives, to name but a few. In these meetings we have discussed possible solutions and what role these organisations could play. I’ve also heard about some areas of good practice that I’m keen to learn from.
I’d like to thank again everyone who has contributed to the review so far. There have been over 600 written contributions and 17,500 responses to the online survey. Every email, letter, survey, telephone call and meeting is helping to shape my ideas for the report. I am looking forward to exploring possible solutions in the seminars I am holding in London, Newcastle and Birmingham. I will share a summary of our discussions on the review website.