XMAS FOI On NHS Whistleblowing

Paul Gaffney made this Freedom of Information request to Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology 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.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology 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

Dee-Anne Bentley, Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Mr. Gaffney

Re: Freedom of Information Request

Ref: 145-2010

Thank you for your email dated 12^th December 2010 requesting information
about NHS "whistleblowing".

Your request is being dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 and will be answered within twenty working days i.e.
by no later than 12^th January 2013.

If you have any queries about this request please do not hesitate to
contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any
future communications.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely,

Dee-Anne Bentley

Document Control Manager

Clinical Governance Support Team

Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology

Clatterbridge Road

Bebington

Wirral, CH63 4JY

Tel: 0151 334 1155 Ext. 4820

Email: [1][email address]

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]

Dee-Anne Bentley, Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Foundation Trust

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Gaffney

Re: Freedom of Information Request

Ref: 145-2010

Thank you for your email dated 12^th December 2010 requesting information
about NHS "whistleblowing".

The information you require is as follows:-

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 information is exempt under section 21 of the Freedom of Information
Act as it reasonably accessible by other means otherwise than via a
Freedom of Information request. The following websites provide various
case law:-

o [1]www.personneltoday.com
o [2]www.xperthr.co.uk
o [3]www.nhsemployers.org

Other sites can be accessed through Google searches.

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?

Our Whistle blowing policy covers all employees.

The aim of our policy is to comply with the Public Interest Disclosure Act
1998 and HSC 1999/198 and thereby ensure that any CCO (Clatterbridge
Centre for Oncology) employee is able to raise their concerns without
having anything to fear and in the knowledge that s/he will not suffer any
reprisals/victimisation.

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

If it is discovered that an employee has abused this confidential
reporting process and has, maliciously or in bad faith or without
reasonable belief has raised unfounded allegations, this will be treated
as a very serious disciplinary matter.

However, no one who comes forward in good faith and/or with a reasonable
belief has anything to fear, even if it turns out that his or her concerns
were unfounded.

4. How many staff members have `whistleblown' in your organisation?

We have had just one whistleblowing case in the Trust.

5. Which department were they in?

This information is exempt under Section 40 - Personal Information, on the
basis that to release information on the individual case could potentially
become identifiable and would therefore breach data protection. The
information in itself is personal and sensitive information.

In all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining
the above exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the
information.

6. How many are still employed there?

As the information in this case was provided anonymously we can not
provide this information.

7. What were the outcomes of the attempt to `whistleblow'?

Following a full investigation, amendments to processes were made. No
individuals were implicated.

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 arrangement was reached in this case.

b) What was the value of each agreement?

N/A

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact
me.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
original letter and should be addressed to: Freedom of Information Review,
Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, Clatterbridge Road, Bebington, Wirral,
CH63 4JY

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

In order for us to ensure customer satisfaction and to monitor compliance
with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, we would be grateful if you
could take a couple of minutes to complete the attached form and return by
email to [4][email address] or by post to the address
below.

Kind regards.

Yours sincerely

Dee-Anne Bentley

Document Control Manager

Clinical Governance Support Team

Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology

Clatterbridge Road

Bebington

Wirral, CH63 4JY

Tel: 0151 334 1155 Ext. 4820

Email: [5][email address]

References

Visible links
1. http://www.personneltoday.com/
2. http://www.xperthr.co.uk/
3. http://www.nhsemployers.org/
4. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
5. mailto:[email address]

Dear Dee-Anne Bentley,

Thank you for the reply..

Yours sincerely,

Paul Gaffney