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New Speak Up guardians appointed

West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is marking national Speak Up month with the appointment of two new Freedom to Speak Up guardians.

The guardian scheme was created nationally in 2015 and is intended to help staff raise any concerns with trust leaders, particularly where they are not sure who to talk to or don't feel confident about speaking up.

Amanda Bennett, who works for Health Education England as a student nurse placement facilitator, took up her guardian role on October 1. She will be joined by WSFT consultant radiologist Dr James Barrett from November 1.

As guardians Amanda and James will be available to support and advise staff on how to raise concerns or to do so on their behalf, including issues of patient safety, quality of care or bullying and harassment at a team or wider level. They will monitor the action the Trust takes and provide feedback on how any issues are being tackled.

Both guardians have strong links with the Trust while bringing different perspectives to the role.

Amanda grew up 15 miles from Bury St Edmunds with her mum working night shifts as a nurse at West Suffolk. She also gave birth to her own daughter at the hospital. She worked abroad for several years after university, before returning to Suffolk and retraining as a mental health nurse and health visitor.

"Over the years I have worked with many people from the trust and have always been impressed by their commitment to their work and to their patients," said Amanda.

"I understand that people and services may not always get it right, but by meeting challenges, questions, and concerns, with compassion and understanding we will find ways to improve and always provide great patient care and workforce wellbeing."

James has been a consultant for almost 18 years having been a trainee at West Suffolk, and all four of his children were born at the hospital.

"I greatly enjoy my work at the West Suffolk, and many members of my family have had healthcare at the hospital. I want the whole trust to provide high quality healthcare, by caring for its patients and its staff.

"As Freedom to Speak Up guardian, I am determined that everybody should have a voice and feel free to give feedback, that the opinions of all members of staff are valued and that that no one should feel discriminated against."

Amanda and James take over from our interim Freedom to Speak Up guardian, Dr Francesca Crawley.

The guardians deal only with queries from staff. Patients and members of the public can get help from the patient advice and liaison service, known as PALS.

The work of the guardians is being highlighted throughout October by the National Guardian, Dr Henrietta Hughes.

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Freedom to Speak Up Guardians Amanda Bennett and James Barrett

Freedom to Speak Up Guardians Amanda Bennett and James Barrett