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Speaking up and the role of nurses and midwives

CPD Hours



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Managing people and resources
Law, ethics and professional responsibilities


What would you do if you were concerned someone at work was about to make an error, or was in the process of making one, that might adversely impact a patient?

Or if you saw a colleague behaving inappropriately, in a way that put a person’s safety at risk? Would you say something, or would you remain silent?

Nurses and midwives have a long history of speaking up when they see something going wrong or when they suspect a patient is at risk of harm.

Having the ability to ‘speak up’ - and feeling safe to do so - is crucial to the provision of safe, quality and effective care.

This module discusses speaking up as part of daily practice. Whilst speaking up, open disclosure and whistle blowing share some elements, they are all different. This module is about saying something BEFORE something goes wrong.

We discuss why speaking up is critical to patient safety, individual responsibilities as a health practitioner, and the potential barriers to speaking up. We then go on to explore some strategies that may be used to assist in speaking up.

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand what ‘speaking up’ means.
  • Describe the importance of speaking up.
  • Know the professional obligation of nurses and midwives to speak up.
  • Discuss the barriers to speaking up.
  • Apply effective techniques to creating a culture that makes it safe to speak up in.
  • Apply effective communication techniques when speaking up.

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