Mary Walsh is the lead Freedom to Speak Up Guardian for Barts Health.
In her 60 second interview, Mary reflects on the importance of The Guardian Service, why it is a useful support channel for staff, and why it is vital that we all feel confident enough to raise concerns.
What's your job title?
I work for The Guardian Service. I am the lead Freedom to Speak Up Guardian for Barts Health. My colleague June-Anne Murray is available when I'm not.
How long have you worked for The Guardian Service?
I have been in this role for around two years. I have a lot of experience in employment law and the Equality Act from managing people and process in other industries. I know how things should work.
What attracted you to the job?
This role is very important in helping to keep staff and patients safe. If a member of staff is thinking of going off sick or resigning because they find themselves in a difficult or stressful situation, they should contact us first. We can escalate their concerns anonymously if that is their wish.
What does your job involve?
Listening to a member of staff who may have a worry about patient safety, staff safety or poor practice and has not been able to have it resolved. This may be because they’re fearful of speaking to their line manager, or feel they've tried and haven't been heard, or are being treated differently as a result.
What does The Guardian Service offer staff at Barts Health?
Every NHS Trust in England is mandated to have a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. Most Trusts appoint an internal candidate to listen to staff concerns. Barts has appointed an external and independent Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. We are available to speak to staff at any time of their choosing.
This means staff at Barts Health have access to an objective listener who will help them speak up about concerns they may encounter at work. We have access to senior decision makers who can help resolve the issues raised. We can hold decision makers to account and ensure action is taken to resolve the concern raised.
How can staff contact The Guardian Service?
Call us on 0333 003 2241 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org or via our website https://www.theguardianservice.co.uk/
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy meeting people who are passionate about their work and helping them to keep strong while working towards a resolution for their concerns. The Freedom to Speak Up Guardian is there for staff members who have been brave enough to highlight concerns or issues that need to improve.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Talking through a number of concerns with a long-standing member of staff and offering them a new perspective on things. They have since been able to better their own situation.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Encouraging people to speak up about issues. Please rest assured you can speak to us in confidence so that action can be taken to address bad behaviour, unsafe practice or whatever your concern is. Your details can be kept anonymous.
How would you spend an ideal day off?
A trip to Westgate-on-Sea, near Margate is a regular for me.
Tell us something surprising about yourself:
I’m a Newham resident born and bred - my children were born in Newham University Hospital and my father's life was saved there a couple of years ago. I’m personally and professionally invested in helping Barts Health staff speak up and feel confident in doing so, in order to ensure we keep staff and patients safe.