Freedom to Speak Up Guardians Hub

Resources and information to help you get more staff to speak up

A Short History of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Role

The concept of Freedom to Speak Guardians was introduced by the Francis review. 

Sir Robert Francis carried out a review into the failings at Mid-Staffordshire and his conclusion was that there is a serious issue in the NHS with whistleblowing that “requires urgent attention if staff are to play their full part in maintaining a safe and effective service for patients”.

Sir Robert made a number of recommendations to deliver a more consistent approach to whistleblowing across the NHS and the report identified the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian as an important role. Francis recommended that there should be appointed both a national Guardian as well as local Guardians in all Trusts. These would be appointed by the Chief Executive, would be genuinely independent and have responsibility for promoting a culture of safety and speaking up in NHS Trusts.

“The Freedom to Speak Up Guardian acts as an independent and impartial source of advice to staff at any stage of raising a concern, with access to anyone in the organisation, including the chief executive, or if necessary, outside the organisation.”
Sir Robert Francis QC

The Aim is to Encourage Staff to Speak Up

The National Guardians Office leads, trains and supports a network of 600+ Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS England.

The aim is to ensure that staff can speak up about any issues impacting their ability to do their job in an effort to improve the local environment and provide learning to the healthcare system as a whole.

WorkInConfidence is proud to provide a valuable services to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, read this blog on the importance of speaking up from our CEO, Tim Martin here

Speaking Up in Your Organisation

Having a clear understanding of your starting point is critical to any goals for Improvement.  The NHS Staff Survey contains a mass of information in the area of whether people feel bullied and harassed and whether they feel safe to speak up.

We produced a handy one page summary of the results per Trust, which you can view here. This can be easily produced specifically for your Trust.  If you would like one, email us at [email protected] (tell us your Trust) and we will email it out to you.

Find out how this has been achieved in organisations like yours.


“The purpose of the Guardian role is to allow people’s voices to be heard – but in my experience, that does not begin and end purely with the Guardian who is, after all, only human. WorkInConfidence provides additional infrastructure and support to the Guardian model and helps overcome any unconscious bias or misinterpretations. It has enabled me to think about what we should be rolling out in a PCN,” she explains. “I like to think of it as a way to ‘guard the guards.”

Anne Morton

Manager, Salisbury Plan PCN

Building a Successful Speaking Up Process

We dived into some of the key themes pivotal in building a successful speaking up culture.

  • What are the barriers to a great speaking up process?
  • Recongising and understanding some of the pitfalls along the way
  • How do you meet these challenges?

Download this valuable eBook to help you build a better speaking up process in your organisation.

A Safe and Respectful Culture

Providing a safe and respectful culture is key to enhancing organisational health and reducing problems.  Download our one page guide full of information regarding the following areas:


  • Key areas to check in your Respect Culture
  • What inhibits people from raising concerns
  • The effects of ignoring Safety and Respect
  • 6 Steps to getting your Respect Culture right

Your Guide to Workplace Bullying

The latest NHS Staff Survey reports that, in many Trusts c. 20% of staff said they had been bullied by a colleage in the last 12 months.  And a further 10% indicated that bullying was by a manager.  Unfortunately, only around one third of people said if they had been bullied or harassed they had raised it.

Understanding the types of bullying, costs and effect is key to solving the problem.  We produced a handy guide to take you through this. Please feel free to download and use in your organisation.


  • Definition of Workplace Bullying
  • How to spot potential bullying behaviour in your organisation
  • Legal guidelines
  • What it may be costing your business
  • How to create a zero tolerance culture in your organisation

Hear from Others how WorkInConfidence is Helping their Organisations

See how WorkInConfidence is helping other healthcare organisations in their journey to build a better speaking up culture.