We each have a voice that counts

We want everyone to feel safe and confident when expressing their views. If something concerns us, we should feel confident to speak up, knowing we will be listened to and supported. Our teams need to have safe spaces where they can work through issues that are worrying them.  If there is a better way of doing something, we share it. We will use our voices to shape our roles, workplaces, the NHS, and our communities, to improve the health and care of the nation.

It is important that we all take the time to really listen – beyond the words – to understand the hopes and fears that lie beneath them and then take action to help. We want our people to support  one another through challenges, during times of change, and to make the most of new opportunities. By creating the environment and culture where all of this is prioritised, our commitments in the People Promise will become a reality for all of us.

National listening tools

There are many channels for employee voice, all of which are fundamental to ensuring we are each listened and responded to. These channels are important for understanding and improving employee experience, in line with our People Promise.

Channels include networks, digital platforms, employee surveys and everyday conversations. Some of these will happen naturally, some will be conducted by organisations, systems or nationally co-ordinated. We must all make sure our people feel valued, and confident that their insights are being used to shape learning and improvement.

NHS England is committed to enhancing existing national listening tools as well as providing further support in the wider space of listening, ultimately to make certain ‘we each have a voice that counts’ and that we understand our people’s varied experience. Since 2020 we have:

  • Introduced the People Pulse, with continuous improvements made to meet local needs and align to the People Promise
  • Launched the National Quarterly Pulse Survey, which provides a more regular view of employee engagement
  • Aligned the annual NHS Staff Survey to the People Promise
  • Extended the eligibility of the NHS Staff Survey so that bank-only workers can take part using questions tailored to their experiences. This is also aligned with the People Promise
  • Piloted a staff survey aligned to the People Promise for Primary Care.

Our NHS people can join our Employee Experience and Engagement community on the FutureNHS platform (please register for a FutureNHS account to access the community). Here you can find the latest information and guidance, good practice, communications toolkits, and a responsive discussion forum. It covers our national listening tools, the why and how of employee engagement, as well as information on employee experience through the framework of our People Promise.

Freedom to speak up

A new pack of Freedom to speak up (FTSU) resources has been produced by NHS England and the National Guardian’s Office to help you deepen understanding about healthy speaking up cultures and valuing the employee voice as a vital driver of learning and improvement.

  • Board members of NHS trusts and foundation trusts have specific responsibilities for supporting workers to speak up, which are outlined in the FTSU guidance and the FTSU reflection and planning tool. They will help an organisation deliver the People Promise for its people, ensuring they have a voice that counts, and a speaking up culture where leaders and managers listen to workers, thereby driving learning and improvement.
  • Alongside this is a refreshed national FTSU policy which now includes learning from previous separate versions from primary care and NHS Trusts. All organisations providing NHS services are asked to adopt the updated national FTSU policy by end of January 2024.
  • In addition, the former Whistleblowers’ Support Scheme has been redesigned following feedback from our NHS people. The enhanced Speaking Up Support Scheme provides a range of support for past and present NHS workers who have experienced challenges in moving forward with their professional or personal lives following a formal speak up process.
  • The National Guardian’s Office has resources to support leaders and managers to foster a listening, speaking up culture.
  • The National Guardian Speak Up index is a key metric for organisations to monitor their speaking up culture. The NHS Staff Survey can help to give some indication as to whether freedom to speak up is embedded within trusts detailing whether staff feel knowledgeable, encouraged and supported to raise concerns and if they agree they would be treated fairly if involved in an error, near miss or incident.

For more information about speaking up across the NHS join our NHS Futures improvement support site (please register for a FutureNHS account to access the support site).