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CQC statement on the resignation of Dame Eileen Sills as National Guardian

4 March 2016
  • Media

Dame Eileen Sills has announced her resignation from her role as the National Guardian for speaking up safely within the NHS.

Sir Robert Francis QC has offered non-executive support to the Office of the National Guardian until a new appointment is made.

Dame Eileen is Chief Nurse at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. She was appointed to the new role in January.

She said: "It has been a very difficult decision to take but after two months it is very clear that it is not possible to combine the role of the National Guardian – and establishment of the office – with the increasing challenges NHS providers face, while doing justice to both roles. My commitment to our patients and staff at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust means that I have to step down from the National Guardian role."

David Behan, Chief Executive of CQC, said: "I was disappointed to receive Dame Eileen's resignation but I respect her honesty in making this difficult decision. A new appointment process will begin immediately. The work of setting up the office of the National Guardian will continue as planned, with a focus on supporting and working with freedom to speak up guardians in NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts."

Sir Robert Francis QC said: "The office of the National Guardian is a vital element in the drive to change the culture of the NHS to one which welcomes and supports staff who raise concerns. Separately from my role as a CQC Board member I am happy to offer non-executive support for the Office as it continues its work until a Guardian is appointed."


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Last updated:
29 May 2017

Notes to editors

The need for an independent National Guardian for the NHS was a recommendation of Sir Robert Francis’s Freedom to Speak Up review in February 2015. The role of the National Guardian is to lead, advise and support a network of individuals within NHS trusts, appointed as ‘local freedom to speak up guardians’, who will be responsible for developing a culture of openness at trust level.  The office of the National Guardian is hosted by CQC, with the appointment of the National Guardian made by CQC with NHS Improvement and NHS England. The focus of the reappointment process will be on identifying the best person for the role, with flexibility accorded to individual circumstances.


For further information about Sir Robert Francis’s Freedom to Speak Up review, please visit:


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.