XMAS FOI On NHS Whistleblowing

Paul Gaffney made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Whittington Health 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 The Whittington 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 Gaffney

Whittington Health NHS Trust

FoI request re NHS whistleblowing
Ref: 11-PG-1001


Dear Mr Gaffney,

Thank you for your request for information relating to NHS whistleblowing. This was sent on the 12 December 2010 and received on 13 December 2010 and is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your request has been forwarded to the relevant department and I'll get back to you if there is any need for clarification.

Please quote the above reference in any further communication on this matter.

Yours sincerely
Malika Hiouni

Freedom of Information Office

Level 1 Highgate Wing, Magdala Avenue
London, N19 5NF

Tel: 020 7288 5653
[email address]
Want FREE help and advice to quit smoking? Ring the Stop Smoking Service
0800 093 90 30 (Islington) or 0800 085 6258 (Enfield & Haringey) or
visit the following websites for information and specialist support:
www.quitsmoking.uk.com
www.islingtonpct.nhs.uk/stop-smoking-ser...

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Whittington Health NHS Trust

FoI request re NHS whistleblowing
Ref: 11-PG-1001


Dear Mr Gaffney,

Thank you for your request for information relating to NHS whistleblowing. This was sent on the 12 December 2010 has been dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We are now able to release the information requested in reply to your questions:

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?
This question should be directed to the appropriate body e.g. Department of Health.

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? Yes
Does it include a duty to inform of potential wrongdoing that has come to light in other
trusts and the like? This would be a matter for the other trust
3) What punishment is meted out to those who knew of alleged
wrongdoing and remained silent? It would depend on circumstances.

4) How many staff members have whistleblown in your organisation? None
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? no one has whistleblown and so no such confidentiality arrangements are not relevant
b) What was the value of each agreement? n/a
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?
Please refer to the Public Interest Disclosure Act.

Please quote the above reference in any further communication on this matter.

Yours sincerely
Malika Hiouni

Freedom of Information Office

Level 1 Highgate Wing, Magdala Avenue
London, N19 5NF

Tel: 020 7288 5653
[email address]
Want FREE help and advice to quit smoking? Ring the Stop Smoking Service
0800 093 90 30 (Islington) or 0800 085 6258 (Enfield & Haringey) or
visit the following websites for information and specialist support:
www.quitsmoking.uk.com
www.islingtonpct.nhs.uk/stop-smoking-ser...

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear The Whittington Hospital NHS Trust,

The answers seem a bit terse...
I'll get back to you when not otherwise engaged.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Gaffney

Gadawodd Nick Carraway anodiad ()

Paul,

I think their answers are all valid. The FOI Act gives you a right of access to information held or recorded by the authority. It is not there to allow you to ask general questions on legislation which is already in the public domain.

Most of your questions are outside the realms of the FOI Act and exempt. The case law, legislation, information on punishments and answer to question 5c is all in the public domain - ie: exempt - so I am surprised you have received so many answers. Do this research yourself.

Also, you should be more precise when asking for statistics as in questions 4 and 5a and give a timescale, eg: the last 12 months, the last 3 financial years.