Freedom to Speak Up (FTSU) guardians exist in all NHS trusts, and they act in an independent capacity to make hospitals safer for patients and staff by encouraging a more honest environment where raising concerns is common practice.
A new report to the board of directors at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital, says 302 concerns were raised by staff throughout 2020/21, compared to 145 in 2019/20.
Of these, 65 related to patient safety and quality, which was second only to concerns raised about behaviours and relationships that accounted for 74.
A total of 39 concerns related to staff safety and 40 to bullying and harassment in 2020/21.
The report states that “whilst it is troubling to receive concerns such as this, there is an improving position in that colleagues feel more comfortable to speak up about these issues”.
Nurses were the profession with the highest number of concerns raised throughout the year, accounting for around a third on a variety of different issues.
The report says: “The largest category of concerns are behaviours and relationships and bullying and harassment, and for the purpose of this report have been combined.
"The behaviours and bullying described to FTSU are at all levels and can often take the form of breakdown in relationships between just two members of staff.”
In response to the concerns, ‘behaviour workshops’ have been rolled out throughout the trust since September and conversations have taken place to understand and resolve issues, among other actions.
The report says concerns on patient safety were around lack of cover and review at the weekends; process on reporting of scans; drug packaging; safe staffing levels and poor patient care.
While other concerns on staff safety were raised about access to vaccinations, exposure to Covid and appropriate PPE.
The report says risk assessments were carried out for staff who may be more vulnerable to Covid, while the vaccination programme was accelerated and made available for all staff.
The number of concerns raised with FTSU guardians at SaTH has risen year on year since 2017/18, the report shows.
SaTH’s board of directors will meet online on Thursday from 1pm, when they will discuss the report.
To stream the meeting live visit www.sath.nhs.uk/about-us/trust-information/trust-board-meetings and follow the link.