Freedom to Speak Up

Jul 30, 2019
Improvement in both service for clients and within the practice’s processes and procedures can often come from within. An open working environment can allow the exchange of ideas and feedback to improve not just working life but all areas of a practice. In today’s blog post, we highlight the recent recommendation by the Francis Report that every trust in England ought to appoint a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. 

Part of the Quality Care Commission, the National Guardians is a confidential non-statutory body that exists to listen to workers, if they are unable to speak up to their manager or through other routes, and to make sure that the right actions within an organisation are taken as a result. They also seek to identify and tackle barriers to speaking up in their organisation.

Over the last two years, the organisation has recorded 19,000 cases including issues that have impacted the delivery of care. An appointed Guardian in an organisation will receive support, training and advice from the National Guardian’s Office that they can then use within their own organisations. 

In 2017, NHS England issued guidance to all primary care providers about appointing a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. From April 2019, the NGO has been supporting this work to make speaking up in primary care business more common. This includes helping optometrists, dispensing opticians, student opticians and optical business staff speak up and organisations to have systems in place to respond. The National Guardian’s Office exists to support those within the optics industry and is keen to understand how individuals can speak for the benefit of workplace practice and, ultimately, patient care.

For more information on the National Guardian’s Office, visit
Since 1 April 2014, the OCCS has assisted over 4,500 consumers and practices to resolve their consumer complaints. Jennie Jones, head of the OCCS, explains: ‘We are delighted that the OCCS  is seen as an effective and useful service, providing independent and impartial mediation and advice. The team does an amazing job ensuring that both the consumer and the practice feel heard, understood, and importantly, helped to find a very practical resolution to the complaint. Mediation is not about judgment or deciding who is right. It is about understanding each other’s perspective to be able to find an answer both can accept. We will soon be reporting on our 4th year in action, and look forward to sharing even more insight and useful information for all involved in optics.'