Scholar Publication Series: Rebecca Delpino

Rebecca Delpino

Name: Rebecca Delpino

Scholarship type: FNF Research Scholarship 2020-2021

Publication title: ‘Speaking Up’ for patient safety and staff well-being: a qualitative study. BMJ Open Quality

Publication link: https://bmjopenquality.bmj.com/content/12/2/e002047.long


Background: Freedom To Speak Up Guardians (FTSUGs) and Confidential Contacts (CCs) were appointed nationally following the Mid Staffordshire inquiry to listen to and support staff who were unable to address concerns through normal channels of communication.

Aim: Explore perceptions of an FTSUG and CCs through shared experiences and personal stories.

Objectives: (1) Explore perceptions of an FTSUG and CCs. (2) Consider how individuals can be best supported. (3) Improve staff knowledge on speaking up. (4) Understand factors influencing reflections around patient safety. (5) Share exemplars of good practice through use of personal stories to promote a culture of openness to raise concerns.

Method: A focus group of eight participants, namely the FTSUG and CCs working within one large National Health Service (NHS) Trust, was used to gather data. Data were collated and organised using a created table. Thematic analysis enabled each theme to emerge and be identified.

Conclusion: (1) An innovative approach to the introduction, development and implementation of an FTSUG and CC roles and responsibilities in healthcare. (2) To gain insight into the personal experiences of a FTSUG and CCs working within one large NHS trust. (3) To be supportive of culture change with committed leadership responsiveness.

Impact of the FNF Scholarship

he FNF Scholarship gave me hope and a lifeline to turn something bad into something great. Providing an opportunity to re-energise and refocus on the positive aspects of nursing, for all the reasons that I became a nurse at the start of my career.

The FNF Research Scholarship provided support and guidance, time and funding which has led to the publication of research and has enabled my academic achievement of MSc Health and Well-being, awarded from the University of Wolverhampton

To design, implement and share my research proposal on ‘speaking up and raising concerns’ I am grateful that FNF recognised my commitment to my qualitative study and aspirations for developing the NHS to become a reflective learning organisation, to learn from mistakes and move forward and promote safe working environments in healthcare. Confident that this project was worth their commitment, funding, and approval.

I have met some inspirational leaders, role models and Scholars from FNF and gained peer support. I have also contributed to leadership skills development discussions through the foundation, proud to be an FNF Research Scholar.

I presented a poster entitled ‘Developing the NHS as a Reflective Learning Organisation’ at the International Public Health Conference in Manchester in 2020. Sharing the work of FNF and raising the profile of the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian service at UHB, advocating the importance of raising concerns within healthcare for patient safety.

Publication in the BMJ Open Quality has been a rewarding achievement, after several years of challenging work.

Impact So Far and Next Steps

I believe an impact of my research has been to raise the profile of the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian and confidential contact service. To support and encourage NHS employees and private healthcare staff locally, nationally, and internationally to raise concerns for patient safety and staff well-being.

I have been invited to deliver an oral presentation with my abstract entitled ‘Speaking up for patient safety and staff wellbeing at a large NHS Foundation Trust: A qualitative study’ at a Scholars Conference, World Nursing and Healthcare Summit (WNHS), scheduled for September 2024 in Singapore. To share knowledge and views on the Conference theme ‘Leading Innovations and Advancing Nursing Practices toward Better Healthcare,’ representing University College Birmingham.


Additional Information

Rebecca is a Lecturer in Health on the Trainee Nursing Associate Apprenticeship Programme at the University College Birmingham (UCB).

She has worked in several roles throughout her nursing career including ward sister for over 20 years within T&O, ward manager and as a night sister, thriving on both the clinical aspects of the role and managerial responsibilities.

Always keen to seek out new developmental CPD learning opportunities, Rebecca undertook a part time secondment in Clinical Education in 2012, within the NHS. She has always been interested in education and teaching and this is when she first decided that education could be her chosen future career. In 2015, Rebecca moved into full-time clinical education.

The focus for her research and subsequent publication was driven by Rebecca’s own challenging experience of reporting poor nursing clinical practice, management and leadership in the past. She wanted to role model the importance of raising concerns and speaking up for patient safety and staff well-being in the NHS, and to focus on developing the NHS to be a reflective learning organisation. Rebecca wanted something positive to come out of her negative experiences.

From 2018 to 2023 Rebecca worked in a voluntary role alongside the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian as a confidential contact at the UHB trust. This led her to focus on her research question as to why the Freedom To Speak Up Guardian had chosen to be in this role and what was the motivating factors for the other twenty one voluntary confidential contacts, in providing their time and commitment to the service and supportive network within UHB.


Click the link to view/download the full Scholar Publication Showcase.