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National Guardian's Office

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The National Guardian now has a new website, please visit

About us

The National Guardian’s Office is an independent, non-statutory body with the remit to lead culture change in the NHS so that speaking up becomes business as usual. The office is not a regulator, but is sponsored by the CQC, NHS England and NHS Improvement. This support includes the hosting of our webpages on the website of the CQC.

The National Guardian’s Office supports the National Guardian for the NHS, Dr Henrietta Hughes, in providing leadership, training and advice for Freedom to Speak Up Guardians based in all NHS trusts. Dr Hughes and her office also provides challenge, learning and support to the healthcare system as a whole by reviewing trusts’ speaking up culture and the handling of concerns where they have not followed good practice. Dr Hughes’ role was a key recommendation from Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak Up Review in response to the Mid-Staffordshire scandal.

These webpages provide information on how to submit case reviews to the National Guardian’s Office, upcoming dates for the Freedom to Speak Up Foundation Training, and a comprehensive list of publications from the office including guidance for the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian role.

Accountability and Liaison Board

Senior representatives from the office’s sponsoring bodies form its Accountability and Liaison Board (ALB). The board members are:

Accountability and Liaison Board photos

Privacy Statement

We use personal data (information that relates to and identifies living people) and other information to help us to carry out our remit of leading a culture change in the NHS so that speaking up becomes business as usual.

The office is not a statutory body or regulator and therefore we do not use personal data as part of any statutory function.

Instead, we firstly use the personal data we receive to support individuals to speak up in the NHS, for example helping them to access assistance from their local Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, or signposting them to sources of independent advice, such a free legal support services. Secondly, we use the personal data contained in referrals made by individuals to review how their employers in the NHS have handled their cases of speaking up, in order to identify learning and to recommend how this can be improved. These are tasks carried out in the public interest.

We share the personal data we receive only when the individual concerned has given us their consent to do so and, where we have such consent, we share it with those persons or bodies whose role is to support individuals to speak up, for example Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. We will only share personal data without consent in exceptional circumstances where there is evidence of a need to protect individuals from the risk of harm, or from actual harm, for example with safeguarding authorities.

The National Guardian’s Office is hosted by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which is the data controller for the purpose of data protection law. Please see link to the main privacy notice on the CQC’s website for further details.

Last updated:
11 October 2019