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National Guardian update

5 April 2016
  • Public

Following the departure of Dame Eileen Sills, we are continuing to perform our responsibility to set up the office without compromising the ability of Dame Eileen’s successor to shape its functioning.

While recruitment is underway for the new National Guardian, Sir Robert Francis is providing non-executive support and oversight to its office with the help of ongoing oversight provided by CQC, NHS Improvement and NHS England.

A full delivery team continues to be in place, and is on course to begin operation and provide advice and support to NHS Trusts on the role of local guardians from the end of April as planned.

The office’s main functions will be phased in throughout the year as follows:

  1. to provide advice and support to NHS Trusts and local guardians operating within NHS trusts as they establish this important role (by end of September 2016),
  2. to give broader advice to NHS management on how to improve and create a culture for healthcare staff to speak up safely, and
  3. to begin to develop the process and criteria for reviewing the handling of whistle-blowing cases (by the end of the year).

The National Guardian role will be advertised later this month, with interviews planned over May and June.

David Bell, who had been seconded to act as Interim Deputy National Guardian, has now returned to his substantive post. David’s contribution has been greatly appreciated, and the set up team will continue to make further progress during this period in order to prepare the office, with non-executive support and oversight provided by Sir Robert Francis.

Sir Robert Francis QC, CQC board member and author of the ‘Freedom to Speak Up' review, said:

“The Office of the National Guardian is a key part of the promotion of the freedom to speak up in the NHS. I remain personally committed to help see a new National Guardian appointed as soon as possible and to oversee the continuing development of the infrastructure required to support the new appointee. I am confident that the team at CQC is working hard to ensure that the new Guardian has the support in place to enable this vital work to be done.”

Last updated:
29 May 2017