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Freedom to Speak Up (FtSU) Guardians

Every NHS trust must have a Freedom to Speak Up (FtSU) Guardian to give independent support and advice to staff who want to raise concerns.

The role came about following the inquiry into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2013.

Guardians work with all staff to help NHS trusts become more open and transparent places. Employees are encouraged to 'speak up' without fearing the consequences.

We have a Lead FtSU Guardian and local Guardians available to support staff on the five OUH sites.

Freedom to Speak Up is linked to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and included in the 'Well led' domain.

FtSU guardians offer:

  • support and advice for staff who speak up, or are supporting a colleague who is speaking up
  • feedback on investigations and the conclusions
  • immediate action if patient safety is compromised

but do not:

  • carry out investigations
  • solve relationship problems in teams or between members of staff
  • deal with concerns raised by patients or visitors.

Freedom to Speak Up Strategy

Our Freedom to Speak Up Strategy 2019-22 has been approved by the Trust Board.

Freedom to Speak Up Strategy 2019-22 (pdf, 606 KB)

It sets out our Freedom to Speak Up vision:

"To promote and ultimately create an open and transparent culture where every member of staff can and should speak up safely, action is taken so the concern is resolved and our patients ultimately benefit."

NHS Staff Survey

The annual NHS Staff Survey, which helps organisations to monitor and improve staff experiences, includes an assessment of our speaking up culture.

The results of the NHS Staff Survey 2022 show that we performed above the national average in the element that assessed:

"We each have a voice that counts" (relating to Raising Concerns), with an overall score of 6.5 (compared to the national average of 6.4) out of 10.

Further information


Raising concerns (whistleblowing) - NHS Employers

Independent advice is available from the National Whistleblowing Helpline:

08000 724 725

Last reviewed:22 September 2023