Freedom to Speak Up Guardians

Every NHS organisation now has someone dedicated solely to giving all staff the support and freedom to speak up for themselves, their patients and all of us. The role of Freedom to Speak Up guardian, as they are known, was recommended by Sir Robert Francis, following his review and subsequent report into the failings in Mid-Staffordshire. 

At Mersey Care you can contact your guardian as follows:


We asked our former Guardian, Pat Prescott what difference the role can make.

“Speaking out isn’t easy even if someone thinks it’s right. It’s been seen in the past as whistle blowing; people were afraid of being blamed. But we are moving towards a culture of openness, learning from the experience and changing things for the better.

To do this staff need someone who will support and advise them through what can be seen as a daunting process and be there throughout and afterwards – the door will always be open.

The NHS has a freedom to speak up policy? Isn’t that enough?

 “Having a real person to talk things through with and knowing there is someone dedicated to supporting you can make it easier for people to speak up. My role is to break down the secrecy and fear; to empower people to speak up knowing they’ll be supported from start to finish.”

Case study

A nurse witnessed another healthcare worker being disrespectful and rude to an elderly service user and his family and shared his concerns.

Pat explained: “He was very upset about what he’d seen but worried about telling his manager. I arranged a meeting with them and sat in to support him. His manager reassured him that he’d done the right thing.

The colleague was given an opportunity to discuss the situation and went on to acknowledge that she’d made a mistake and was able to apologise to the family.

Having that support made him feel it was worthwhile speaking up and the problem was resolved at grass roots level quickly rather than it being allowed to fester.”