University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is embracing technology to make it easier for staff to raise concerns by becoming the first NHS Trust in the country to launch a Freedom to Speak Up App.
The Trust launched its Freedom to Speak Up campaign in July 2015 with the appointment of Heather Bruce, Senior Radiographer, as its first Freedom to Speak Up Guardian – one of only a handful in the NHS at that time.
The purpose of this role, which was recommended by the Francis Inquiry, was to help shift the culture of the Trust to one where all staff, volunteers, students and governors feel able to raise any issues or concerns and know that they will be addressed confidentially, swiftly, and in line with good practice.
Since then, Heather has worked hard to make raising concerns as easy as possible for staff, especially clinical staff that do not always have access to emails or a computer. This is where the idea for the Freedom to Speak Up App came from.
The free app allows staff to raise a concern confidentially and from work or home via their phone or tablet.
Heather can then look into the issue and support the member of staff who wishes to speak up ensuring that the concern is escalated and addressed appropriately.
Heather, said: “It is really important that staff not only feel able to raise concerns if they see something that they think isn’t right or that may compromise safe patient care, but that they know they will be listened to and supported by the Trust if they do raise a concern. This is absolutely what we are about at UHMBT and that is why we are thinking of as many ways as possible to make it easier for staff to raise any concerns they may have. The purpose of the App is to give staff another way of speaking up if they want to. Everyone has their phone with them at all times these days and use them to do most things so it seemed a logical next step for us. The App gives staff all the information they need on raising a concern and what to expect next, and although we prefer it if they give us their name so we can feedback to them on the outcome of their concern, they can submit it anonymously if they wish.”
Staff can now download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android.
Morecambe Freedom to Speak Up by Intec for Business Limited
David Walker, Medical Director, UHMBT, said: “We are really pleased to be launching our new Freedom to Speak Up App. The very best organisations in the world encourage an open culture where staff have no fear in raising concerns, and we believe that the use of this App is another step forward to ensuring that our Trust leads the way in supporting staff whenever they need it and making it as easy as possible for them to raise concerns. The launch of this App is just one of the ways that we are using technology differently to benefit both our staff and patients. We have already launched innovative new initiatives such as virtual outpatient clinics where the patient has their appointment with a consultant via a secure video link, Advice and Guidance which enables GPs to speak directly to hospital doctors for advice on a patient rather than just referring them to hospital, and the multi-disciplinary shift handovers that take place by secure video link in Women and Children’s services across our hospitals. This year, we have lots more planned including the further development of our electronic patient record, launching e-prescribing so patients receive their medication when they are discharged quicker, and using iPods on our wards to record patient observations.”