NHS national guardian: ‘I understand what it’s like to provide care on the frontline’

The Guardian 24 February 2016
Eileen Sills    Chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS foundation trust in London

Dame Eileen Sills, the first national guardian with a remit to support NHS whistleblowers, explains what she hopes to acheive in her new job

Dame Eileen Sills
Dame Eileen Sills: ‘I have no doubt that we can make the changes that are needed to deliver a new culture of transparency and openness.’ Photograph: Eloise Parfitt

never expected to be where I am today. In April, I will have an office and new function to support the NHS and I want to go away and know what I have done makes a difference.

I think the new job will be difficult and challenging, but it is so important to do it well. I understand what it is like to provide care on the frontline. I also understand how difficult it is for staff always to have the confidence and courage to speak out.

In this role, therefore, I will take my current experience, working with individuals and organisations to learn the lessons from reviews and investigations to date.

With the support of the staff who work in the NHS, I have no doubt that we can make the changes together that are needed to deliver a new culture of transparency and openness.

I will work two days a week; it is very important to me that I remain present in my NHS trust. My new appointment has to give credibility to the role, but I also need to be there for staff.

I have always done clinical work even in a general management role – it is very personal to me. I will carry on with spending Fridays on the wards – one week I might walk the wards of St Thomas’, another week work at Guy’s. If someone needs help, I will work alongside them.

Nursing is the best job in the world. No two days are the same. No minute to the next is the same. The vast majority of nurses get out of bed to do the right thing. Sometimes when it doesn’t happen, it is to do with the team.

Nursing may have changed much in terms of skills, but what stands a nurse out from the crowd is to give really good compassionate care focused on the patient. That is what gets me out of bed in the mornings.

I am not driven by status, but I want to make sure what I do matters. If I can do both these roles justice, then I will sleep at night.”


3 thoughts on “NHS national guardian: ‘I understand what it’s like to provide care on the frontline’

  1. Well she wasn’t particularly effective in her role at St Thomas’ where they avoided dealing with my complaint of malpractice by claiming to have lost my notes and the ambulance transfer slip. I did not mention that I had obtained these by subject access request to see how far they would take it. The trust lied to me and to the NHS ombudsman and eventually produced my notes with forged additions claiming not to have noticed them at first inspection and justifying the difference between my copy and their new copy by saying the additions were written on the cardboard cover which I wasn’t sent. They did not inform me when the lost notes were found and ignored any questions on the subject. They fabricated statements from the ambulance crew who I met again on another matter who said they had never been interviewed or made any statements. Challenges to the trust based on this information were also ignored. This is one patients experience of St Thomas’ hospital. In future i’ll take my chances with homeopathy rather than go there again.

    • hi and on the subject of ‘missing notes’ I write to say of my experience or should I say what I had to endure….
      I was investigated by CAVUHB from 31.5.12 (date untrained IO) until 31.12.12 (date she signed the D@W report) pre disciplinary hearing I requested (my legal right) to receive the IO witness interview notes … Bet you guessed it –
      They were searched for, they were missing, IO didn’t take any notes (18 witnesses statements), to me finally being told in 2016 by Head (one of many) of HR that the notes were DESTROYED = perverting the course of justice (at its best)…

      The IO however, kept her notes of my 5 meeting!!! but not the notes of the witnesses or the 2 complainants who she had met with (allegedly) 7 times one nurse and 6 the other !!!

      It has only recently come to my attention that one of the witnesses, former colleague (met coincidentally, I may add) that she did not know the person who she sat with to write her statement!, she did not want to write a statement/get involved with investigation and was pressured! to what she told this woman!!! was not recorded in her statement – THIS IS HOW HEALTH BOARDS CONDUCT THEIR INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS WITH THE FRIENDS AKA IO’s…


  2. Dear Dame Eileeen,

    Can you please make a start in your new job as national guardian by reading the whistleblowing cases already in the lime light/exposed commencing with Sharmila Chowdhury case and put together a report on your findings as soon as possble. You don’t need to wait until some one comes knocking on your 2 day/week door to commence you new post.

    Look forward to hearing from you

    former NHS RGN (due to raising concerns about my abusive and bullying manager)

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