Speaking Up Support Scheme frequently asked questions

Support to move forward after a speaking up process

Who is the scheme for?

The scheme is open to past and present NHS workers who can demonstrate they have experienced an adverse impact (see below for definition of adverse impact) as a result of a formal process of raising concerns in the NHS and are having difficulty moving forward in their professional and personal lives.

How are past NHS workers defined for the scheme?

A past NHS worker is someone who has previously worked for the NHS within the last three years. 

Which areas of the NHS do I need to have worked in to apply to the scheme?

The scheme can be accessed by anyone who works in or has worked in NHS healthcare, including pharmacy, optometry and dentistry. This encompasses any healthcare professionals, non-clinical workers, receptionists, directors, managers, contractors, volunteers, students, trainees, junior doctors, locum, bank and agency workers, and former workers.

What is a significant adverse impact?

For the purposes of this scheme, we define significant adverse impact as a person’s health and wellbeing being affected as a result of experiencing reprisal and/or disadvantage after speaking up through a formal process. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • leaving the team or organisation because the person felt they had no other option
  • being moved to less desirable duties or locations
  • being denied the information or resources to do their job properly
  • being overlooked or denied access to promotion or training
  • being criticised for speaking up, being refused support to manage the stress associated with speaking up
  • being bullied, excluded, or treated negatively
  • suffering ill-health as a result.

What does a formal process of raising concerns mean?

This refers to speaking up and raising concerns via a formal process within an NHS organisation. Applicants will need to evidence which process was followed. This may include the application and investigatory outcomes that have resulted from NHS policies such as, Freedom to Speak Up, safeguarding, counter fraud, dispute resolution and grievance.

What is a reasonable attempt to resolve any differences arising from the outcome of the speak up process within my organisation/place of work?

A reasonable attempt will be where applicants can demonstrate that they have attempted to resolve any differences about the outcome of the speaking up process. This may be in the form of email communication, mediation or any other meetings that may have occurred. This may be (but is not limited to) through their line managers, practice managers, a previous manager, human resources, Freedom to Speak Up guardian or any other prescribed body organisation like the Care Quality Commission, NHS England, the National Guardian Office, unions etc.

Why do I need to have completed my speaking up process before I join the scheme?

The scheme offers a range of intense and challenging interactions through psychological therapy, coaching and group personal development and applies a learning approach from participants lived speaking up experience. To get the most from the scheme, participants need to be able to focus on the future and move forward. Emotionally, this will be difficult to do if they are awaiting the outcome of a process. Therefore, it is important that individuals have completed their speak up process in order to fully receive the benefits of the scheme and be receptive of the support to help them move forward in their personal and professional lives.

What can I expect from the scheme?

The scheme aims to help participants to move forward with their lives through one-to-one coaching and psychological support sessions, group sessions and learning and development workshops. The aim of this holistic approach is to enable participants to feel heard, and lead to a positive outcome.  The scheme provides a space for reflection, discussion and support within your one-to-one and group sessions. If you feel that scheme is not helping you or you are struggling to see improvements from the scheme, you will need to raise this with the scheme manager as soon as possible. It is important to note that some of the psychological interventions and group work might feel challenging and uncomfortable and it is important to ensure you give yourself time and identify support for yourself between the scheme interventions.

How long is the scheme?

Depending on which cohort you are placed with the scheme length will vary. Cohort 1 will run from April to December and Cohort 2 will run from September to March each financial year. The scheme length varies due to the point of the financial year it falls within; this does not impact on the quality of the support delivered.

How is the scheme delivered?

The scheme is delivered via online live sessions using platforms such Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Successful participants will need to ensure they have access to these.

How will the scheme help me?

Previous cohorts of the scheme have shown improved levels of hope, self-efficacy, resilience and optimism which many attributed specifically to the scheme. The scheme for some has contributed towards reducing the negative impact from speaking up, even in cases where they have experienced significant personal or professional setbacks.

What if I cannot attend all sessions?

The scheme support team will do their best to accommodate your situation, however as part of the eligibility criteria you are consenting to be present for the duration and all aspects of the scheme.

What am I consenting to?

The scheme is designed to give participants the best experience and work with qualified experts in their field. You are consenting to your data being shared with these experts as well as the Support Scheme team and any associated partners. We will only share information that is vital to share (please see the scheme guidance for more in-depth information on how we store and share your data). You are also consenting to:

  • fully participating in the scheme for its duration
  • completing a health and wellbeing session
  • participating in the full evaluation.

If any clinical data is produced this will not be shared by your psychologist. For evaluation purposes an anonymised report of non-clinical outcomes will be shared with the Speaking Up Support team but will not contain any identifiable outcomes of individual participants.

I left the NHS more than 3 years ago can I still apply to join the Speaking Up Support Scheme?

The eligibility criteria specifies that the scheme is open to past NHS workers who have previously worked for the NHS within the last 3 years only. However, please do speak with the Scheme Support team should you require further information on this matter.

How does the application process work?

You will need to complete an application and email this to the Support Scheme team by the closing date. The team and selection panel members will consider and score each application based on the evidence that has been provided. Applicants will need to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria, please refer to Speaking Up Support Scheme guidance for further information.

Will I be guaranteed a place on the scheme?

There are limited places for this scheme and should we be over-subscribed, those assessed by the panel as most likely to benefit from the scheme will be invited for an informal discussion to learn more about your application (please see guidance for details of the informal discussion). If you are unable to secure a place on the scheme, we will ensure we signpost you to other national health and wellbeing support offers.

How will I know if I am successful?

You will be contacted by the Speaking Up Support Scheme team a few days after the selection process is complete.

What happens if I am unsuccessful?

You will be notified and given feedback on why you were unsuccessful. You will be signposted to other resources available in the NHS and you will have the opportunity to reapply to a future scheme.

Will the scheme support me with employment matters?

The scheme is not able to assist you with employment matters, these are for discussion between you and your employer.

Can the scheme advise on employment tribunal cases?

No, this is not in the remit of the scheme.

No, the scheme is unable to help with any legal matters, process or costs.

Will the scheme fund further education or training?

No, the scheme does not support further education or training but if there is a demand for a particular workshop or further coaching the support scheme team will consider this.