Working on national platforms and programs to ensure
the patient's voice is always heard

Frequently asked questions

How is your service different to what we already have in place?

The Guardian Service is independent and can access the Trust in a different manner to other existing means in seeking resolutions. We are complementary to, and not ‘instead of’, existing methods. The main purpose for introducing the service is to provide an additional path for staff, in particular for staff that are (for whatever reason) not prepared to use existing procedures. Sometimes we are informed that the reason for contacting the Guardian and not using existing processes is because of fear of recrimination, other times the caller wants to talk through their experience and double-check what their options for taking action may be.

What is the difference between red staff safety concern and an amber staff safety concern?

Essentially it is the speed of action that the Guardian Service will take in respect of contacting the appropriate person at the Trust, and the speed of expected response from the Trust. Red requires a response in 12 hours and an amber alert requires a response in 48 hours.

What is the difference between the Guardian Service and Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)?

We are complementary to, and not ‘instead of’, existing methods. The Guardian Service does not provide counselling or mediation. We do not provide legal or psychological advice. We are often used as a ‘sounding board’ which helps the employee identify exactly what’s happening to them which leads to options for resolution for the individual to consider. We are experienced managers and may ask the employee to consider whether what is happening to them could be part of a reasonable management process or to put themselves in the shoes of the other party concerned, where this may be appropriate.

What do you do that the Union doesn’t do?

We are complementary to the work of the union. Staff do not have to be a member in order to contact us. If the employee is not already engaged in a process (such as disciplinary or grievance), then we are able to support or request senior decision makers to intervene to get a speedy resolution. We offer a strictly confidential, non-judgemental, supportive staff liaison service.

Why should we trust you?

We offer a strictly confidential, independent, non-judgemental, supportive staff liaison service. We do not make a formal record of our conversations or do anything with the information you provide without your express permission. If it relates to patient or staff safety, we must report this immediately either anonymously or with your permission, with your name.

If I can’t talk to my line manager about the problems here, how or why should I talk to you?

We are here to ensure staff feel able to ‘speak up’ about issues that concern them. We cannot take on cases ourselves, but can challenge or invite others to look into cases which do not appear to have been handled in line with good practice or where it appears that a person raising a concern has experienced detriment as a result of raising the concern. We have access to senior decision makers within the Trust who can help resolve the issues raised. We can facilitate a meeting between you and the person you may have a concern with as long as you both agree to it. This is not mediation.

What do users say about you?

Users regularly thank the Guardian Service for providing a sympathetic ear, asking pertinent questions, putting the other side of the argument and listing potential options for achieving the desired resolution. Sometimes users ask us to raise concerns on their behalf, other times users feel more confident about having a difficult conversation or using internal channels to seek resolution themselves.

What do you do with the information that you gather from contact with staff?

We escalate concerns to the appropriate person in a timely manner with the aim of bringing about a resolution that addresses the concerns raised. This may not always entirely satisfy the person who has contacted us but we continue to monitor the situation. We submit a monthly report to the Board which contains numbers of the contacts made to us - details of the job family, location, broad reasons for making contact, i.e. fear the Trust won’t take action, and the theme of what is their concern, i.e. bullying and harassment, discrimination. We ensure that no individual can be identified from this data. The reports are a crucial tool for the senior team and Board to understand what the underlying cultural themes within the Trust are and to plan action to address the issues identified.

Isn’t the Guardian Service Limited another drain on the finite resources of the NHS? How do you demonstrate that you provide value for money?

The Trust is obliged to have a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian and has chosen the Guardian Service Limited to provide a 24/7 service because we are entirely independent, impartial and separate from the Trust. This demonstrates that the Trust is keen to provide a strong Guardian service that is adequately resourced and outside of NHS control or influence and available to all staff. We provide Guardians for a number of NHS Trusts. We aim to resolve issues before they become a real problem, which means less time and money wasted in dealing with complicated and/or damaging conflicts which drain monetary and emotional resources.

The Guardian Service Limited

Registered address: AW House, 6-8 Stuart Street, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 2SJ

Trading address: 14 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8HN

Company No. 09030131. Registered in England

VAT No. 250 0584 36