Ambassador for cultural change & lead FTSU guardian,
Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Helené Donnelly is the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's Ambassador for Cultural Change & Lead Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. Helené was appointed in 2013 to develop and embed a role to support staff to raise concerns and ensure that the voice of the frontline is heard clearly at a senior level within the organisation.
Helené previously worked in the A&E department at Stafford Hospital and following her experience and difficulties in trying to raise concerns there, she was a key witness at the Public Inquiry held by Robert Francis QC into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
As Ambassador for Cultural Change, Helené has a clear remit from the Trust Board to act freely and with complete autonomy from the management team as another route for issues of concern to be raised at the highest level. Helené is interested in gathering feedback about staff wellbeing, if they believe they are listened to and what barriers might prevent staff from raising concerns.
Helené is a registered Nurse Practitioner, with over twenty years of experience working in the NHS and Social Care, primarily in emergency care. In addition to her work at the Partnership Trust, Helené acted as an advisor in Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak up Review (2015). She has advised the Department of Health, NHS England, NHSI, CQC, RCN, and the NHS Confederation. She has worked with the NMC to develop improvements in raising concerns/duty of candour and witness liaison, and is a member of the NMC Professional Strategic Advisory Group. She has also worked with Public Concern at Work (PCaW)/ Protect and Health Education England (HEE) to develop national raising concerns training, since implemented by the National FTSU Guardians Office (NGO).
She advised the CQC on the implementation and development of the National Independent Freedom to Speak Up Guardian Office established in 2016, and local Guardian roles across the NHS as recommended by Sir Robert Francis. She continues to deliver national FTSU training to Guardians and Champions.
In addition Helené is working with the NHS National Institute for Health Research as an advisor to the University of Birmingham, Cardiff University, University of Surrey and King’s College London on the FTSU Guardian national research project. Helené acts as an Honorary and Visiting lecturer to the Universities of Manchester, Salford and the MOD respectively. In 2020 she was asked to act as an expert adviser to the Corruption Economic Crime Branch of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) regarding whistleblower protection in the health sector.
Helené continues to advise the government and relevant stakeholders on the importance of embedding and sustaining positive cultures, where staff are genuinely encouraged and enabled to speak up and voice concerns to protect staff and patients.