Turn Up The Volume! 2 London 26th May 2017 – A Reflection on the event
Two years ago, Steve Turner, Managing Director of Care Right Now CIC, launched the first Turn Up The Volume! Conference in Bristol inviting patients, carers, NHS and social care staff to come together for the first time to discuss the problems within the NHS.
‘It was billed as a patient safety event like no other,’ said Mr Turner, ‘and it certainly lived up to its promise. There were many emotional moments as people told their stories to a sympathetic audience. The aim was to share experiences in promoting patient safety as well as helping people to speak out safely about bad practice and bullying.’
Turn Up the Volume 2 aimed to take the conversation further, make more links and help bring about actions which make a difference.
This was a ‘bootstrap’ event, which was put together by people who care about the subject, many of whom gave up their own time to be involved. It was open to anyone with an interest in the subject.
Forty people attended the event, from all parts of the UK and beyond. Delegates were from a variety of backgrounds including health & care staff, patient and public whistleblowers and academics.
The event was organised with the support of Marianna Fotaki is Professor of Business Ethics at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.
Feedback from the event, which is still coming in, is largely positive and all constructive. As a result resources are being added to the event web pages, and an action plan is being developed. This will be openly shared with all delegates and through the www.tutv.org.uk web pages and on twitter under the hashtag #tutvlondon .
Aims of the event:
- To provide a safe space where all involved can listen and learn from each other.
- Giving food for thought and ongoing reflection.
- Providing an interactive and inclusive listening exercise, where we plan to help everyone use the experiences of all those affected by cultures of fear to drive forward real change.
Throughout the day emphasis was placed on be on transforming ideas into action, and moving beyond stereotypes.
Speakers and delegates:
The morning session was chaired by Colin Leys, emeritus professor of political studies at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, and an honorary research professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is co-chair of the executive management team of the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI).
In the morning we heard from Dr Alexis Bushnell, who is a Research Fellow on an ESRC Transformative Grant, examining post-disclosure survival strategies by organisational whistleblowers (with Dr. Kate Kenny and Professor Marianna Fotaki). Then from Tracy Boylin, Human Resource professional and whistleblower, who spoke on ‘How can we use this event to make a difference?, and outlined some of the NHS initiatives that are underway.
Following this we heard from inspirational nurse Joan Pons Laplana, who spoke on Whistleblower experience and survival. Joan tweets as @RoaringNurse and has 27.5K followers. He spoke of the support he needed to keep going and in particular how he was welcomed into the BME community and found support there.
This was preceded by a short outline by Steve Turner of what happened when concerns were listened to. He gave an example of a project which came about because concerns were raised and, thanks to an open leadership approach, resulted in long term (and measurable) patient safety improvements.
There followed an interesting and powerful discussion on the current culture, where many of the delegates expressed their concerns that it remains unsafe to speak out at the moment. This included reservations and serious concerns about the effect of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian initiative.
The final talk for the morning was given by a current whistleblower, who wishes to remain anonymous, who outlined their current situation and the background to it. This was a disturbing story which paints a picture familiar to many whistleblowers, where patient safety concerns are turned into an employment issue and the focus is distorted in a complex web of bureaucracy, obfuscation and accusations.
The afternoon session was chaired by Fergus Walsh, BBC Medical Correspondent. Our guest speaker was Steve Bolsin, the man who blew the whistle on failings in paediatric heart surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary. This led to the Kennedy inquiry, which vindicated his concerns and was a landmark in clinical governance. He subsequently found it impossible to find another position in the UK and moved to Australia, where he became director of critical care services at Geelong Hospital in Victoria, achieving world class outcomes with the adult cardiac anaesthetic service he started. He has honorary professorial positions at Monash and Melbourne Universities.
Steve gave an account of the events in Bristol which even today, nearly 30 years later, was a poignant reminder of what happens when people try to speak up and blow the whistle and a club culture closes ranks to protect themselves and their organisations. This led to a powerful group discussion and questions to and from the panel, and highlighted ongoing concerns.
The event concluded with a session on action planning, collecting ideas and keeping up the momentum.
Dr Steve Bolsin speaking at TUTV! 2 London
One of the main areas of feedback is that these type of events enable people to get together who normally never meet, and that the strength of this networking, and the non-hierarchical approach adopted, will help in delivering a just culture in health & care.
Specific actions proposed included:
- Building links with academic institutions and existing research projects
- Linking with the BME community and leaders, who suffer disproportionately as whistleblowers and were under represented at the London conference.
- Building links with whistleblowing organisations
- Setting up action learning projects e.g:
- To find out more about all costs of victimisation of whistleblowers, (legal fees, settlement agreements, ‘garden leave’ etc…).
- Looking at the effect on relatives of whistleblowers
- Looking at whistleblowing in remote and rural areas
- Introducing more visual displays such as one shown at the event the ‘cost of bullying in the NHS’ and using the hashtag #tutvlondon
Cost of bullying in the NHS display (figures for 7 hours) based on ACAS figures and the NHS staff survey
- Promoting the Turn Up the Volume! model of engagement in England and beyond
‘The Turn Up event went well. I believe that together we moved things on a little. The event linked together more great people and academic institutions, and came up with some actions.
My aspiration for the movement is to demonstrate how (or if) this approach to ‘engagement’ events works. The main characteristics being that it’s open to all, non-hierarchical and aims to look at things from all angles.
My personal goal is to be able to return to the clinical work I nearly lost when I tried to raise concerns and was bullied. I was very lucky due to my unusual career, and my experience of both clinical work, troubleshooting and senor management. Many people aren’t so lucky and their continued exclusion is great loss to the NHS and Social Care. Not to mention the personal suffering and the failures to keep patients safe, which is why all genuine whistleblowers put their heads over the parapet in the first place.’
Updates will be posted on the www.tutv.org.uk pages over the next few weeks.
Author: Steve Turner Date: 23/6/2016