New national whistleblowing guardian appointed

A NEW national "guardian" who will lead efforts to encourage NHS staff to raise concerns has been appointed in England.

Dame Eileen Sills has been named as the first national freedom to speak up guardian who will lead a "cultural change" within the health service to improve openness and honesty.

The role was created following Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak Up review into NHS whistleblowing which was published last year.

As national guardian, Dame Eileen will lead and support the network of local freedom to speak up guardians based across England. She will "offer advice, 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".

Based at the Care Quality Commission, she will balance the part-time role with her work as chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

The CQC has emphasised that, while the national guardian will work in partnership with the CQC, NHS England and the NHS Improvement Authority, she will be "completely independent, highly visible, and will speak freely and honestly about where changes are needed among NHS trusts and foundation trusts."

Dame Eileen will publish a report outlining how the national guardian should operate, including details of a new website, before taking up the post in April.