Dame Eileen Sills, a chief Trust nurse, has been appointed to help foster a culture where staff feel safe and confident to raise public interest concerns, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) announced.
On being given the role Sills, the chief nurse at Guys and St Thomas’s Hospital Foundation Trust, said, “I understand what it is like providing care on the frontline. I also understand how difficult it is for staff always to have the confidence and courage to speak out.”
This is a result of Sir Robert Francis’s Freedom to Speak Up review in February 2015, which recommended a national guardian role was created after it found that patients could be put at risk because mistakes or concerns were not being raised by NHS staff routinely.
As part of her role, Sills will work in partnership with the CQC, NHS England and NHS Improvement to reinforce good practice. She’ll also lead and advise a network of individuals within NHS trusts, appointed as ‘local freedom to speak up guardians’, who will be responsible for developing a culture of openness at trust level.
However, she will be completely independent, the CQC said, and highly visible, sharing good practice, reporting on national or common themes and identifying “any barriers that are preventing the NHS from having a truly safe and open culture,” the announcement read.
Sills added: “I fully appreciate that this is a very big and challenging role, but with the support of the staff who work in the NHS, I have no doubt that we can make the changes together that are needed to deliver a new culture of transparency and openness.”