XMAS FOI On NHS Whistleblowing

Paul Gaffney made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Humber NHS Foundation Trust,

I have done some research and found there are a number of pieces of guidance on how best to ‘whistleblow ‘in the NHS.
Examples include:
1) Each trust is expected to have a’ whistleblowing’ policy modelled on 2003 Department of Health Guidance.
2)Other ‘whistleblowing’ guidance that is issued to general practitioners by NHS employers after the Shipman Inquiry and a Code of Practice published in 2008 by the British Standards and Public Concern at Work .
3 )A Doctor’s duty to report concerns is set out in the General Medical Council’s Good Medical Practice published in 2006 supported by supplementary guidance Raising Concerns About Patient Safety.
‘43. You must protect patients from risk of harm posed by another colleague’s conduct,
performance or health. The safety of patients must come first at all times. If you have
concerns that a colleague may not be fit to practise, you must take appropriate steps
without delay, so that the concerns are investigated and patients protected where
necessary. This means you must give an honest explanation of your concerns to an
appropriate person from your employing or contracting body, and follow their
procedures.
44. If there are no appropriate local systems, or local systems do not resolve the problem,
and you are still concerned about the safety of patients, you should inform the relevant
regulatory body. If you are not sure what to do, discuss your concerns with an impartial
colleague or contact your defence body, a professional organisation, or the GMC for
advice.
45. If you have management responsibilities you should make sure that systems are in place
through which colleagues can raise concerns about risks to patients, and you must
follow the guidance in Management for doctors.
So raising concerns is not just a matter of personal conscience – in some circumstances it is a
professional obligation.’

4) Under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 ‘whistleblowers’ get legal protection against victimisation or dismissal for exposing malpractice at work. This piece of legislation followed a succession of cases where whistleblowers had been ignored , including the problems at Bristol Royal Infirmary ,where 29 babies and children died after heart surgery .
5) Until 1 April 2010 it was optional for NHS trusts to report serious untoward incidents to the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA).Since then there has been a duty to report introduced by the Care Quality Commission Registration Regulations 2009 ...a more demanding duty :
“This is a duty which is accomapied by sanctions in the criminal law for failure to report –and th ephraes in the regulations is ‘without delay’ –deaths which cannot be explained by the normal course of the illness the patient is suffering from.
And then equally significantly there’s a further duty ,again, to report events which appear –before anybody which has actually been injured or died from events in hospital –systems need to be in place which would expose patients to that sort of risk.’
THE QUESTIONS RAISED BY THIS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST ARE :
1) Is there any case law or any other pieces of legislation or other pieces of NHS or professional guidance which protect any possible ‘whistleblower.’?
2) Does the duty to inform of ‘wrongdoing’ extend to other staff: legal advisors,managers and social workers ,nurses and care assistants as well as doctors as well?Does it include a duty to inform of potential ‘wrongdoing’ that has come to light in other trusts and the like?
3) What punishment is meted out to those who knew of alleged wrongdoing and remained silent?
4) How many staff members have ‘whistleblown’ in your organisation?
Which department were they in?
How many are still employed there?
What were the outcomes of the attempt to ‘whistleblow’?

5) Despite pieces of legislation and professional guidance such as these nearly 90% of severance packages between NHS Trusts and departing doctors contain confidentiality clauses.The charity Public Concern at Work states that the law protects whistleblowers even if they have signed confidentiality arrangements.
a) How many confidentiality arrangements have been reached with former staff members?
b) What was the value of each agreement?
c) Does the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act make it illegal for NHS Trusts and other public bodies to include confidentiality clauses preventing the disclosure of information that is in the public interest? If not do they still have a duty to inform their professional body or indeed anyone else? Does this extend to any ‘act or omission’ (a term used in the Human Rights Act ) on the part of your organisation?
Yours sincerely
Paul Gaffney LLB BA
Ipswich
Suffolk

Yours faithfully,

Paul GaffneyLLB BA

Harmer, Graham,

Dear Mr Gaffney

Thank you for your request for information about whistle blowing. Your
request was received on 13 December 2010 and I am dealing with it under
the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will
let you know. A fees notice will be issued to you and you will be required
to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

I hope to respond to your request within 20 working days of it being
received.

Any information we provide following your request under the Freedom of
Information Act will not confer an automatic right for you to re-use that
information, for example to publish it. If you wish to re-use the
information that we provide and you do not specify this in your initial
application for information then you must make a further request for its
re-use as per the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005
[1]www.opsi.gov.uk . This will not affect your initial information
request.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.

Yours sincerely

Graham Harmer

Head of Information Governance

Humber NHS Foundation Trust

Mary Seacole Building

Willerby Hill

Beverley Road

Willerby

HU10 6ED

Telephone Number: 01482 389277

Fax Number: 01482 303921

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
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any use, disclosure, copying or distribution of the information is
prohibited. In such cases you should destroy this message and kindly
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Although Humber NHS Foundation Trust endeavours to ensure that all systems
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dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Harmer, Graham,

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Gaffney

I am writing to confirm that the Humber NHS Foundation Trust has now
completed its search for the information which the Trust received on 13
December 2010.

You asked for the following information:

1) Is there any case law or any other pieces of legislation or other
pieces of NHS or professional guidance which protect any possible
`whistleblower.'?

The Department of Health has recently issued guidance on this matter and
this can be accessed on the following link:

[1]http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsands...

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have issued all registered nurses
with their guidance about raising and escalating concerns. A copy of this
guidance is attached for information.

Within the guidance the NMC make clear "......the purpose of this guidance
is to establish principles for best practice in the raining and escalation
of concerns (also known as whistleblowing)."

2) Does the duty to inform of `wrongdoing' extend to other staff: legal
advisors, managers and social workers, nurses and care assistants as well
as doctors as well? Does it include a duty to inform of potential
`wrongdoing' that has come to light in other trusts and the like?

Everyone has a duty to report issues. You must raise the issues with the
organisation concerned where the "wrong doing" has taken place

3) What punishment is meted out to those who knew of alleged wrongdoing
and remained silent?

If a member of staff has chosen to remain silent the trust would not
necessarily be aware of this. However, if during an investigation, it
became apparent that an individual failed to meet their professional codes
of conduct, disciplinary action would be taken if appropriate

4) How many staff members have `whistleblown' in your organisation? Which
department were they in? How many are still employed there? What were the
outcomes of the attempt to `whistleblow'?

There have been two instances, both nursing roles. Both members of staff
are still employed. The individuals were supported through this process.

5) Despite pieces of legislation and professional guidance such as these
nearly 90% of severance packages between NHS Trusts and departing doctors
contain confidentiality clauses. The charity Public Concern at Work states
that the law protects whistleblowers even if they have signed
confidentiality arrangements.

a) How many confidentiality arrangements have been reached with former
staff members?

None other than as part of employment compromise agreements and that is
with regard to disclosure of amounts given etc.

b) What was the value of each agreement?
Not applicable

c) Does the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act make it illegal for NHS
Trusts and other public bodies to include confidentiality clauses
preventing the disclosure of information that is in the public interest?
If not do they still have a duty to inform their professional body or
indeed anyone else? Does this extend to any `act or omission' (a term used
in the Human Rights Act) on the part of your organisation?

The Trust would not give advice on the interpretation of the law under the
Freedom of Information Act. However everyone has a duty to flag up issues
to their employer and, if these are not resolved, then to take the issues
up with other organisations such as professional bodies.

I hope my response has covered all the information which you requested.

To help us measure our performance in responding to Freedom of Information
requests I wonder if you will take a little time to complete the attached
form and return it to me at this e mail address.

The information we have provided to you is copyrighted to the Humber NHS
Foundation Trust and provided to you free of charge for your personal use
or for other specific uses permitted in the Copyright Act. If however you
wish to use the information we have provided for any commercial purposes
including the sale of the information to a third party then, under the
Regulations on the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005,
you must ask us for permission to do so in respect of each specific piece
of such information. If we do grant such permission this may involve a
licensing arrangement which may attract a fee.

If you have any other queries about this letter, please also contact me.

If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of our decision
you should write to:

PALS and Complaints Manager

Trust Headquarters

Willerby Hill

Beverley Road

Willerby

HU10 6ED

[2]mailto:[email address]

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by the Humber NHS Foundation Trust. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

Graham Harmer
Head of Information Governance
Humber NHS Foundation Trust
Mary Seacole Building
Willerby Hill
Beverley Road
Willerby
HU10 6ED

Telephone Number: 01482 389277
Fax Number: 01482 303921

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are confidential and
intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which they are
addressed. If you are not the intended recipient you are notified that
any use, disclosure, copying or distribution of the information is
prohibited. In such cases you should destroy this message and kindly
notify the sender by reply e-mail.
Although Humber NHS Foundation Trust endeavours to ensure that all systems
are virus-free, the Trust will not be liable for any losses as a result of
any virus contained within this email or attachment(s). We are not liable
for any opinions expressed by the sender where this is a non-business
e-mail. If you do not receive all the message, or if you have difficulty
with the transmission, please telephone us immediately.

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsands...
2. mailto:[email address]