The recent ‘Freedom to speak up‘ report by Sir Francis on whistleblowing highlighted the wealth of lessons we could learn that are being missed.
Central to the report was the need for change towards open, transparent and reflective learning cultures which value communication and engagement.
In order to foster this culture change Sir Francis poses many suggestions including:
- Every member of staff should receive training in their organisation’s approach to raising concerns and in receiving and acting on them.
- There should be opportunities for all staff to engage in regular reflection of concerns in their work.
- Raising concerns should be part of the normal routine business of any well-led NHS organisation.
He also recognised the difficulties of implementing these suggestions for locums, agency and bank staff and he found it surprisingly hard to get a clear understanding of the options open to staff who work in primary care.
The focus on non-permanent staff is an important one because they are in a ‘more vulnerable position’ and perhaps also bring a fresh pair of eyes with ‘objectivity and good practice’.
So how will the training and support for reporting and reflecting be provided and how will that be extended to new and non-permanent staff ?
In a busy working day filling in a form, going to a meeting or even finding a desktop computer can be prohibitive. To bring about a true culture change these processes need to fit into todays culture of communication. The smartphone is in the hands of the vast majority of healthcare workers and is already used by many to reflect on and share personal experiences so it mustn’t be ignored as another vital tool to help improve team working and social learning. Continued learning, reflecting and sharing knowledge, skills and professionalism needs to be the focus. The Digitalis App is being designed to take this focus to the smartphone for all health professionals. It will also, vitally, be equipped to provide access to all polices, procedures, support and other induction material for secondary and primary care and permanent and non-permanent staff alike.