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Freedom to speak up in primary care: whistleblowing

Blog Author Colin Blackler

Blog Date 09/11/2017

Following the development of NHS England (NHSE) guidance on 'whistleblowing procedures', the Leicestershire & Rutland Local Dental Committee felt it could help improve the facilitation of this process, by developing a local procedure and model policy for dental practices to adopt. 

The NHSE guidance recognised that in some primary care organisations, limited management structures, or relationships within practices, may inhibit staff from voicing concerns within the employing practice.

They suggested that it might be a good idea to have external people for staff to approach, and these included LDC representatives.

As dentists, the LDC saw there could be a potential conflict of interest in practising dentists being aware of concerns relating to other practices, and so the LDC identified two of its non-member colleagues to be their Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.

Freedom to speak up in primary care, was published in November 2016 and the guidance identifies five key points:


  • primary care staff should be encouraged to raise concerns early
  • primary care providers to be proactive in preventing inappropriate behaviour
  • all providers to 'review & update' their local policies and procedures (in line with the guidance) by September 2017
  • primary care providers to identify 'Freedom to Speak Up Guardians', accessible to staff
  • primary care organisations to adopt the good practice published in Freedom to Speak Up (in this context, the guidance suggests that NHSE will support a 'network' of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians)

Local NHSE primary care managers have approved our process, and this LDC is happy to make our local procedure, explanatory flowchart, and model policy available to all our local practices, as well as support them to implement it, please get in touch.

Colin SJ Blackler

Consultant Adviser, Leicestershire & Rutland LDC


Sharing best practice: tell us what you are doing

We'd love to hear about other examples of best practice which LDCs are implementing locally and can be shared by others – if you are working on, or have implemented a new process, please let us know.