XMAS FOI On NHS Whistleblowing

Paul Gaffney made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS 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 rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS 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

Wallington Roz,

1 Atodiad

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your email received 12th December 2010 requesting the
below information.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust acknowledges your request
and it is being processed as a new request 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 if necessary and
you will be required to pay before I will proceed to deal with your
request.

Your name and contact details will be circulated to staff within the
Trust whilst responding to your request for information. If you do not
wish for your name to be disclosed to staff, please let me know.

Please find attached a briefing which explains your rights to request a
review by the Trust or to complain to the Information Commissioner's
Office if you are not satisfied with the response from the Trust. It
also outlines the Trust's policy on the Reuse of Public Sector
Information which should be applied in the reuse of any information
provided by the Trust in response to your request or otherwise obtained
under the Freedom of Information Act.

If you have any queries regarding this email, please contact me and
quote the reference number above in any future correspondence.

Kind regards

Roz Wallington
Communications Officer
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
Tel: 01743 261000 ext 1378
Email: [email address]

This message may contain confidential information. If you are not the
intended recipient please inform the sender that you have received the
message in error before deleting it. Please do not disclose, copy or
distribute information in this e-mail or take any action in reliance on
its contents: to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Wallington Roz,

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

I regrettably have to inform you that we are unable to send this
information within 20 working days.

Please accept my sincere apologises and I will endeavour to get a
response to you by 20th January 2011.

Many thanks

Kind regards

Roz Wallington
Communications Officer
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
Tel: 01743 261000 ext 1378
Email: [email address]

This message may contain confidential information. If you are not the
intended recipient please inform the sender that you have received the
message in error before deleting it. Please do not disclose, copy or
distribute information in this e-mail or take any action in reliance on
its contents: to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Wallington Roz,

1 Atodiad

Dear Paul,

Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. Please see The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS
Trust response below.

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'?

We can confirm that The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust holds
information that falls within the definition in your request. Information
about the Trust's policies and procedures for Whistleblowing can be found
in the Trust's Whistleblowing Policy which is available from our website
at
[1]http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...

Information about guidance to the NHS on Whistleblowing is available from
the Department of Health website at [2]www.dh.gov.uk

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?

We can confirm that The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust holds
information that falls within the definition in your request. Information
about the Trust's policies and procedures for Whistleblowing, including
the duties and responsibilities of staff, contractors, trainees, agency
staff, homes workers and self employed professionals, can be found in the
Trust's Whistleblowing Policy which is available from our website at
[3]http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...

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

We can confirm that The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust holds
information that falls within the definition in your request. Information
about the Trust's disciplinary procedures can be found in the Trust's
Disciplinary Policy and related policies which are available from
[4]http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...

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'?

The Trust can confirm that it does hold information concerning one case of
staff whistleblowing from a member of ward staff under Division 1. The
Trust is unable to state if the staff member still works at the Trust as
the Trusts database which holds whistleblowing information does not
include the staff member's name.

This case was investigated in accordance with the Trust's Whistleblowing
Policy and it was found that there was no case to answer (see Section 9.2
of the Trust's Whistleblowing Policy).

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?

In order for the Trust to answer this question we reasonably require
further clarification on the definition of Confidentiality Arrangements.
Please submit your clarification to me within 7 working days of receiving
this email as I have stopped the clock at day 18. If you do not respond
within 7 working days I will presume this FOI is closed.

Please find attached a briefing which explains your rights to request a
review by the Trust or to complain to the Information Commissioner's
Office if you are not satisfied with the response from the Trust. It also
outlines the Trust's policy on the Reuse of Public Sector Information
which should be applied in the reuse of any information provided by the
Trust in response to your request or otherwise obtained under the Freedom
of Information Act.

If you have any queries regarding this email, please contact me and quote
the reference number above in any future.

Kind regards

Roz Wallington

Communications Officer

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Tel: 01743 261000 ext 1378

Email: [5][email address]

This message may contain confidential information. If you are not the
intended recipient please inform the sender that you have received the
message in error before deleting it. Please do not disclose, copy or
distribute information in this e-mail or take any action in reliance on
its contents: to do so is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...
2. http://www.dh.gov.uk/
3. http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...
4. http://www.sath.nhs.uk/working-with-us/P...
5. mailto:[email address]