Dame Eileen is first National Guardian for speaking up safely


Posted on Thursday 7 January 2016
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Dame Eileen Sills

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has appointed Dame Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, as the first National Guardian for speaking up safely within the NHS.

Dame Eileen will support trusts around the country in developing a culture of openness that supports safe care and which gives staff at all levels the confidence to speak up freely and honestly if they have concerns.

She will remain as the Chief Nurse at Guy's and St Thomas' while taking up this new and important national role on a part-time basis.

Dame Eileen says: “I understand what it is like to provide care on the frontline. I also understand how difficult it is for staff always to have the confidence and courage to speak out. I will take my current experience, working with individuals and organisations to learn the lessons from reviews and investigations to date.

"I fully appreciate that this is a very big and challenging role, but with the support of the staff who work in the NHS, I have no doubt that we can make the changes together that are needed to deliver a new culture of transparency and openness.”

Among her responsibilities as the National Guardian, Dame Eileen will lead, advise and support a network of individuals within NHS trusts, appointed as ‘local freedom to speak up guardians’, who will be responsible for developing a culture of openness at trust level.  

She will also share good practice, report on national or common themes and identify any barriers that are preventing the NHS from having a truly safe and open culture. 

Amanda Pritchard, Acting Chief Executive at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “It is fantastic news that Eileen's exceptional commitment to patients and staff will now benefit other trusts around the country. 

“Eileen led our own campaign here at Guy's and St Thomas' to ensure that staff across the organisation feel confident to speak up about any issues or concerns, and that they know about the different ways to do this, including through the support of a network of specially trained advocates.”

David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, says: “Dame Eileen is a leader of exceptional quality and so I am delighted that she will be the first National Guardian for the NHS.

"We know that healthcare professionals are committed to delivering good care, day in and day out and that many organisations respond to any concerns they may have openly and transparently as a normal part of working. This results in better and safer care for patients.”

As the National Guardian, Dame Eileen will work in partnership with CQC, NHS England and NHS Improvement to reinforce good practice, she will also take an independent stand to report on any matters of concern affecting these bodies when required.  

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