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Anti-Bullying and FTSU Group - Nov 2017
Anti Bullying and Freedom to Speak Up initiative launched
20 November 2017

Pictured above: Anti-Bullying Advisors and Freedom to Speak Up Advocates at one of the awareness stands during Anti-Bullying Week with Deputy CEO Frank Sims (far left), CEO Maggie Oldham (centre, black outfit) and Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Leisa Gardiner (far right).

An initiative to encourage staff and volunteers at Isle of Wight NHS Trust to speak up has been launched with a series of awareness activities and events being held last week during National Anti-Bullying Week (13-17 November 2017).

All staff at the Trust are being encouraged to raise concerns and tackle bullying with the following pledge:

“I commit to building a workplace where all staff are trusted, respected and supported; where bullying and harassment is tackled not tolerated; where positive behaviours are encouraged and modelled, and where staff are supported to respectfully challenge negative behaviour.”

The Trust recognised that for the last few years there has been continuous feedback from staff related to experience of bullying and harassment and a general reluctance to speak up. This feedback has been received through the national annual staff survey, quarterly external and internal surveys and reviews and CQC inspections. As a result, the Trust set up a ‘Behaviour Focus Group’ who have been working throughout the year on activities and interventions to support staff who feel they have been bullied, those who may have witnessed bullying as well as staff who have been accused of bullying.

The Trust policy has been reviewed; an internal intranet area set up specifically for staff to find help and information, as well as posters and information booklets distributed to raise awareness. The main focus of work through the year has been recruiting and training ‘Anti-Bullying Advisors’. Nationally it is recognised that Trusts must address concerns and urge staff to speak up as soon as possible because. Not only is this important for their own wellbeing, it improves the quality of care patients receive.

In addition to this, recommendations from Sir Robert Francis’s ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ review in 2015 prompted Trusts nationwide to appoint ‘Freedom to Speak up Guardians’. The Trust appointed Leisa Gardiner into this role and she will work with Trust leaders to create a culture where staff feel more comfortable to speak up not only about bullying and harassment, but also patient safety, fraud and anything else they may have concerns about.  

The Trust has appointed 11 Anti-Bullying Advisors and 3 Freedom to Speak up Advocates, who have undergone comprehensive training and will complement each other to be able to support staff in a more holistic way and support the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. To celebrate the advisors and advocates starting their positions, held a series of activities and events during National Anti-Bullying Week.

The launch week, was organised by the Trust’s Behaviour Focus Group and was intended not only as a celebration of the hospital’s progress in tackling bullying, but also as a reminder to staff that they can come forward with any issues they may have.

The group are planning to recruit more Anti-Bullying Advisors and Freedom to Speak up Advocates during 2018. It is hoped that this really important initiative will improve staff wellbeing and enable staff to deliver the very best care they can by making the Trust a much happier place to come to work.

Leisa Gardiner, Freedom To Speak Up Guardian for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, said: “We hope to encourage staff to come to us with any concerns they may have and create a culture of openness where staff are encouraged to speak up, lessons are learnt and the quality of care improves for our patients as a result.”

Recently appointed Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Isle of Wight NHS Trust Julie Pennycook (pictured above), said: “As a Trust we are acutely aware that our staff surveys for a number of years have indicated that staff feel that they are not listened to. Making sure that our staff feel comfortable to speak up, safe in the knowledge they will be listened to and heard is so important as we move forward on our improvement journey. I am pleased that we have staff who are committed to act as advisors and advocates to support staff and volunteers.”

Recently appointed Trust Chairman Vaughan Thomas made a statement at the Trust Board meeting held in public on 8th November 2017 which can be accessed at http://www.iow.nhs.uk/news/Staff-encouraged-to-speak-up.htm

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