First NHS National Guardian resigns

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

The first NHS national guardian has stepped down from her post owing to the pressure of fulfilling the post part time in addition to her other role as chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust.

She was due to begin the post officially in April this year but resigned before taking it on. She stated in handing her resignation: –

“It has been a very difficult decision to take but after two months it is very clear that it is not possible to combine the role of the National Guardian – and establishment of the office – with the increasing challenges NHS providers face, while doing justice to both roles. My commitment to our patients and staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust means that I have to step down from the National Guardian role.”

The post was developed in response to the Freedom to Speak Up review that was conducted following the Mid Staffordshire scandal. CQC Board member Sir Robert Francis QC has pledged to offer non-executive support until a replacement for the role is found. Some have commented that the role should have been offered on a full-time basis such is the importance of the new position to developing a positive open culture within the NHS.

The role was developed to support whistle-blowers in the NHS and develop an open reporting culture where it is acknowledged that staff have a positive impact on improving patient safety and care. The post will provide leadership for the Freedom to Speak Up Guardians across NHS Trusts who will help implement an open culture within the NHS. This comes at a time when the CQC have found bullying problems within an NHS Trust which prevented staff reporting in relation to patient care.

One would hope that a new Guardian is appointed promptly with a full-time remit to keep promoting an open and honest working culture within the NHS.

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