XMAS FOI On NHS Whistleblowing

Paul Gaffney made this Freedom of Information request to East Suffolk and North Essex 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 Colchester Hospital University 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

FOI REQUESTS (RDE) Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Tr,

Dear Mr Gaffney,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Your
enquiry has been logged and forwarded to the appropriate department for
action. The Trust has 20 working days to supply a response, although we
will endeavour to do so before then.

Kind Regards,

The FOI Team at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

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FOI REQUESTS (RDE) Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Tr,

Dear Mr Gaffney,

Thank you for your request under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000
and please accept our apologies for the delay in our response.

You asked us:
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 Public Disclosure Act 1998 grants legal protection to any staff that
release information in the public interest, providing that this has been
done responsibly. The Social Partnership Forum have produced a guide 'How
to implement and review whistleblowing arrangements in your organisation',
which was designed for the NHS. It can be found on the Department of
Health site -
[1]http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsands...

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?
The duty to raise any issues or concerns through the correct channels is
the responsibility of all staff.

3) What punishment is meted out to those who knew of alleged wrongdoing
and remained silent?
Under Trust policies, all staff have a duty to report any concerns to the
appropriate person using the Trusts incident reporting procedure. Failure
to do so could result in disciplinary action under Trust procedures.
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'?
Nil

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 confidentiality agreements have been reached with medical staff
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?
N/A

Hopefully this answers your request.

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Kind Regards

The FOI Team at Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

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Dear FOI REQUESTS (RDE) Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Tr,

Thank you for the reply...I just wonder isn't there now a piece of case law that means there is a duty to inform if wrongdoing incurs.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Gaffney