Speaking Up Support Scheme

The Speaking Up Support Scheme, September cohort is now open for applications.

Please read the information on this webpage for details about the support scheme and the application process as places are subject to eligibility criteria, and ensure any relevant evidence is provided when submitting your application.

For any enquiries, please contact the Speaking Up Support Scheme team

The closing date for applications is 5 August 2024.

Support to move forward after a speaking up process

The scheme provides a range of support for past and present NHS workers who have experienced a significant adverse impact on both their professional and personal lives, to move forward, following a formal speak up process.

The scheme, formerly known as the Whistleblowers Support Scheme, was created in 2019 as a response to the recommendations from the 2015 Freedom to Speak Up review. It has been revised based on learning from the previous iterations of the support scheme.

What the scheme will offer

The scheme enables past and present NHS workers, who meet the eligibility criteria, to access a structured programme of support which includes:

  • health and wellbeing session
  • one-to-one psychological wellbeing support
  • career coaching
  • personal development group workshops
  • a range of practical support through group sessions. 

This support will be delivered online, via virtual platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom, by specialists in wellbeing and coaching support.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from all NHS workers, past or current, who meet the eligibility criteria. This includes anyone who works 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.

How to apply

Please read the scheme guidance and frequently asked questions before you make your application.

Submit your application form, equalities monitoring form, consent form, supporting evidence and documentation electronically to the Speaking Up Support team.

If you have difficulties with completing the form, please email the team.

Eligibility criteria for the Speaking Up Support Scheme

Due to the over subscription of this scheme, applications will be scored against the following criteria:  

  • A present NHS worker or a past NHS worker who has previously worked for the NHS within the last three years.
  • Has been through formal processes of raising concerns in the NHS and suffered significant adverse impact as a result.
  • Has been through formal processes of raising concerns in the NHS, the subject of which related to safety, posed a risk or presented as malpractice or wrongdoing.
  • Made reasonable attempts to work with their organisation to resolve any differences resulting from the outcome of the speak up process.
  • Can demonstrate the negative impact that speaking up has had.
  • Can demonstrate how the scheme will benefit them to move on personally and professionally.
  • Open to participate in all the scheme aspects.
  • Must not have taken part in any previous related Speaking Up Support Scheme including the NHS Whistleblowing Support Schemes and the pilot scheme.

Sources of advice and support

Please note some of these support offers will only be available to present NHS workers.

How NHS organisations can be involved

The Freedom to Speak Up review (2015), conducted by Sir Robert Francis highlighted the importance of speaking up in the NHS and ensuring support is in place for individuals to speak up safely and raise concerns in their place of work without fear of reprisals. The review recognised that a number of workers lost valuable skills or even left their employment after raising a concern. This not only caused a significant adverse impact on individuals but also a loss of expertise and resource to the NHS.

We recognise there are times when speak up issues are very complex and do not always bring the resolution desired.  From experience we know these issues can impact on workers and organisations.

We encourage all NHS organisations to ensure:

  • Their relevant departments, such as human resources, and their freedom to speak up guardians are aware of the national Speaking Up Support Scheme offer.
  • Their policies and processes reflect the principles in the guide for leaders in the NHS and organisations delivering NHS services.
  • Workers have easy access to information on how to speak up and the Speaking Up Support Scheme, and actively refer individuals to the scheme.
  • They are mindful of those workers who may have cultural barriers to speaking up or who are in lower paid roles and less confident to do so, and also those who work unsociable hours and may not always be aware of or have access to the policy or processes supporting speaking up.
  • They communicate with all their workers by identifying the best channels to do so.
  • They reflect on any learning to build healthy cultures in which every worker feels safe to speak up.

Please email the Speaking Up Support team with any enquiries.

Speaking Up Support Scheme evaluation report 2023

This report is an independent evaluation of the 2022/23 Speaking Up Support Scheme. It considers how well the support scheme enables participants to move forward in their personal and professional lives. It also identifies learning outcomes to help improve the support scheme, as well as learning outcomes for NHS organisations to better support those speaking up.