Speaking in a debate on the report into the use of powerful opioid painkillers at Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001, Philip Dunne supports the role of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and calls for leaders of the NHS and the National Guardian’s Office to ensure that best practice is used so that people with concerns about safety have the confidence to make complaints.
I join the cross-party support for my right hon. Friend’s statement and add my voice in commending the dedication and commitment of Bishop James Jones, who, I am pleased to say, is I think in the Chamber listening to the Government response to his report.
I am a great supporter of the National Guardian’s Office and the “freedom to speak up” guardians; in fact I am such a strong supporter that I wear its lanyard around my neck and have done ever since I was in the Health Department. But it is the case that a number of people who make complaints either do not yet have sufficient confidence in these guardians or feel that their complaints are not properly addressed. There are however good examples of best practice, where some chief executives of trusts have a regular, routine meeting with guardians to make sure that complaints are brought directly to their attention. Will my right hon. Friend work with the senior leaders across the NHS and the National Guardian’s Office to ensure that best practice is used so we can give the most possible confidence to people with concerns about safety?
Yes, absolutely I am happy to do that, and I am happy to commend my hon. Friend’s lanyard, too. Ultimately culture change and having a good culture comes down to the leadership within the NHS and individual trusts. It has struck me in the four months that I have been doing this job that the trusts that have the best results in terms of outcomes for patients, waiting times and waiting lists, and finances are also those that are hot on this subject; they listen to complaints and act on them, because they know that that is the way to improve their organisation. I want to see that sort of best practice right across the board.