A social worker has been appointed to a new role established to ensure that staff within Health and Community Services can speak up about any issues which stop them from being able to deliver the best possible patient care.
Ashling McNevin (pictured), who is also a qualified counsellor, has become Jersey’s first Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. This is a permanent role established by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Karen Wilson, in response to the 2022 review of clinical governance arrangements in Jersey General Hospital.
Freedom to Speak Up Guardians work across health care organisations in other jurisdictions, helping to ensure that the voices and concerns of staff are heard and acted upon.
Ashling has worked for the Government of Jersey for the past 15 years in several roles including as a Senior Social Worker within the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Team and more recently within the Adult Social Work Team. She has been seconded to the Guardian role for six months pending recruitment of a permanent post-holder later this year.
She said: “Staff across HCS devote their time to making life better for others and for many it is more than just a job. Having a staff team that feel valued and heard will benefit everyone who uses our services.
“I want staff to know that they can speak up about anything they feel could improve within HCS, or which shines a light on the good work that is being carried out each day. I will encourage staff to share their voices, and work to ensure their voices are heard and acted upon to promote better services for all.”
Ashling believes her background as a social worker will stand her in good stead for the role. “Social workers need to be fearless so that we can influence and drive change where needed,” she said.
“We strive to work with integrity, to be transparent, honest and to work as one team. I will bring these practices into this new role and would encourage any employee who has any concerns to bring them forward. Confidentiality is guaranteed unless those highlighting concerns don’t wish to remain anonymous.”
Deputy Wilson said: “As Minister, I want HCS colleagues to feel empowered to speak up when things go wrong, and to feel supported when they do. It is only by speaking up that we can make sure that lessons are learned and services improved for the benefit of patients.
“I hope that Ashling’s appointment will help demonstrate to HCS staff and to Islanders that we are committed to acting on the advice set out 2022 report and are working to accelerate the delivery of patient-focussed change and improvement. I look forward to seeing the positive changes that Ashling will help implement.”