Care Quality Commission
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CQC welcomes 'Freedom to Speak Up' review

David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission said:

"It takes great courage for health professionals to raise concerns about care and so they must be reassured that when they do come forward that they will not suffer as a result. No one should be punished for acting in the public's best interest.

"As Sir Robert Francis's review highlights, while there are some services that are reporting and acting on concerns as a matter of routine, sadly we know that this is not happening all of the time. This means that vital information about patient safety is going unreported and risks can remain. Every organisation needs to create and nurture an open and transparent culture of safety and learning.

"From our inspections, we know that progress has been made in building this. Every planned inspection of ours investigates how well services handle complaints and concerns as it can be an indicator of the quality of the service's leadership and a reflection of how safe and responsive its culture is.

"We have found care services that support staff in raising their concerns, confident in the knowledge that they will be listened to and that action will be taken. It is important that services can learn from those that do this well, so that this can become a reality across the care system.

"We strongly welcome the publication of the Freedom to Speak Up Review and the advice on how organisations and individuals can work together to create a more open and honest reporting culture across the NHS. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has accepted these recommendations in principle and will consult on how they could be implemented.

"In particular, we believe that the local 'freedom to speak up guardians' who Sir Robert has recommended should be appointed within every NHS trust could make a key difference to staff being able to raise concerns, as could an Independent National Guardian within CQC who could support this network of individuals and encourage best practice on handling whistleblowing disclosures. We look forward to contributing to the Department of Health's consultation on this."

Notes to editors

  • For further information about the Freedom to Speak Up Review by Sir Robert Francis, please visit:
  • Last December, CQC published a national themed review on how complaints are handled across health and adult social care services and what actions should be taken so that improvements can be made. For further information, please
  • In 2013/14, CQC was contacted 9,473 times by whistleblowers across health and adult social care services in England (figures taken from CQC’s Annual Report and Accounts). This information can help CQC decide where and when it should carry out its inspections.
  • Anyone can share their experiences of care with CQC, anonymously if they wish to do so. For further information, please visit:
  • CQC reviews how services handle staff concerns and complaints in every planned inspection using its new model, which it formally rolled out last October. For further information about how CQC now inspects and rates services, please

About the Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator of health and social care in England.

We make sure health and social care services provide people with safe, effective, compassionate, high-quality care and we encourage care services to improve.

We monitor, inspect and regulate services to make sure they meet fundamental standards of quality and safety and we publish what we find to help people choose care.


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