1.0 Introduction. Whistleblowing Policy June 2011 Page 2 of 7

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1 Royal Bournemouth & Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust WHISTLEBLOWING (PUBLIC INTEREST DISCLOSURE) POLICY Approval Committee Partnership Forum Version Issue Date Review Document Author Date 1.2 June 2011 May 2014 Bridie Moore Page 1 of 7

2 Contents Page No 1.0 Introduction Policy Statement What is Whistleblowing? Scope Employee Safety Employee Confidence Adverse Incident Report Procedure How to raise a concern internally Independent Advice External Contacts Communication Review and Monitoring Date for Review Appendix A Introduction The Trust Board is resolved that RBCH Trust operates lawfully. Employees who raise genuine concerns are considered an asset not a threat and are viewed as witnesses rather than complainants. The Trust recognises that employees may at one time or another have concerns about what is happening at work. Usually these concerns are easily resolved. However, when they are about unlawful conduct, financial malpractice or issues related to the delivery of care, which might affect the welfare of patients or staff, it can be difficult to know what to do. It is acknowledged that employees may be worried about raising such issues or may want to keep the concerns to themselves, perhaps because it is only a suspicion or that raising the matter would be disloyal to colleagues, managers or to the organisation. Alternatively employees may decide to say something but find that they have spoken to the wrong person or raised the issue in the wrong way and are not sure what to do next. The Trust has introduced this procedure to enable employees to raise concerns about such malpractice suspicions (e.g., neglect of duties or inappropriate actions which may have serious consequences) at an early stage and in the right way. The Trust would rather such matters were raised when they are just a concern rather than delayed for absolute proof. If an employee is troubled by something, which they think the Trust should know about or look into, this procedure should be used. If, however, an employee is aggrieved about their personal position, the Grievance Procedure which can be obtained from managers or the Human Resources Directorate should be used. This Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) policy is primarily for concerns where the interests of others or of the organisation itself are at risk. Page 2 of 7

3 If an employee suspects fraud or corruption, they should follow the requirements of the Trust s Fraud Policy. Under the terms of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, employees who raise concerns relating to fraud and corruption are protected if they act reasonably and responsibly. If in doubt raise it! 2.0 Policy Statement 2.1 What is Whistleblowing? At its simplest, whistleblowing occurs when an employee or worker raises a concern about danger or illegality that affects others, for example members of the public. This concern is usually raised with the employer or a regulator and the whistleblower is usually not directly, personally affected by the danger or illegality. Whistleblowing is not the leak of general information to the media. Examples of malpractice which qualify as protected disclosures under the Public Interest Disclosure Act include: Abuse or Mistreatment of patients or exposing patients to unacceptable risk Acts of fraud and theft against the organisation or patients. Dangerous Health & Safety situations. Deliberately concealing information regarding malpractice. 2.2 Scope This policy applies to all employees and others working within the Trust e.g.: (i) Employees who work under a contract of employment or apprenticeship (ii) Self-employed people working under a contract to perform personally any work or services for another party to the contract (excluding selfemployed professionals such as solicitors, accountants, etc) (iii) Agency workers, home workers, NHS doctors, dentists, ophthalmologists, pharmacists and trainees on vocational or work experience schemes (iv) Crown servants 2.3 Employee safety The Trust Board and Chief Executive are committed to this policy. If any employee raises a genuine concern under this policy, they will not be at risk of losing their job or suffering any form of retribution as a result. Provided the employee is acting in good faith, it does not matter if they are mistaken. Of course this assurance will not be extended to someone who maliciously raises a matter they know is untrue. 2.4 Employee confidence The Trust will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a genuine concern. However, it is recognised that employees may nonetheless want to raise a concern in confidence under this policy. Should an employee ask for their identity to be protected by keeping a confidence, it will not be disclosed without consent. If the situation arises where the Trust is not able to resolve the concerns without revealing the employees identity (for instance because evidence is needed in disciplinary or legal proceedings), the matter will be discussed with the employee regarding whether and how to proceed. Page 3 of 7

4 Whilst the Trust will consider anonymous reports, via the Adverse Incident Reporting (AIR) procedures, the Whistleblowing (Public Interest Disclosure) policy is not appropriate for concerns raised anonymously. 2.5 Adverse Incident Reporting (AIR) Any event that an employee believes might have created a risk to patient care or staff safety can be reported in confidence using the Trust s AIR reporting system. AIR forms are available on all wards and departments and completed forms should be returned to Risk Management. Although a fair blame reporting culture is promoted and staff encouraged to openly report incidents, AIR forms may also be returned anonymously if the individual reporting the incident wishes to do so. 3.0 Procedure Once the Trust has been informed of an employee s concern it will be assessed initially to determine the action that should be taken. This may involve an internal inquiry or a more formal investigation. The employee will be told who is handling the matter, how they can contact him / her and whether their further assistance may be needed. If requested, a written summary of the concern and how it is proposed to handle it will be supplied to the employee. When the concerns are raised employees may be asked how they think the matter might best be resolved. Should there be any personal interest in the matter, the employee must inform the Trust at the outset. If the concern falls more properly within the Grievance Procedure the employee will be notified. While the purpose of this policy is to enable the Trust to investigate possible malpractice and take appropriate steps to deal with it, it will give the employee as much feedback as it properly can. If requested, responses will be confirmed in writing. However, the Trust may not be able to inform an employee of the precise action it takes where this would infringe a duty of confidence owed by the Trust to someone else. 3.1 How to raise a concern internally Step one Where employees have a concern about malpractice, the Trust hopes they will feel able to raise it first with their manager. Alternatively such issues can be raised with any individual highlighted in Step One, Appendix A. This may be done orally or in writing. If an employee suspects fraud or corruption, they should follow the requirements of the Trust s Fraud Policy. Step two Should an employee feel unable to raise the matter with their manager, for whatever reason, or if the issue remains unresolved, the matter should be raised with one of the following: An Executive Director The Trust Medical Director Page 4 of 7

5 The Chair, Medical Staff Committee A Non-Executive Director not otherwise involved in dealing with complaints or litigation If the matter is to be raised in confidence the individual named above should be informed so that they can make appropriate arrangements. Step three If these channels have been followed and the concerns still remain, or if an employee feels that the matter is so serious that it cannot be discussed with any of the above, then the one of the following individuals should be contacted: Chief Executive Chairman If appropriate an employee may raise the matter with the Secretary of State for Health. Where the concern is about fraud and corruption, the NHS Counter Fraud Hotline can also be contacted ( ). The contact details of all three steps are given in the appendix to this policy. 3.2 Independent advice If an employee is unsure whether to use this procedure or wants independent advice at any stage, they may contact: Their Union contact information can be found on the intranet and the Union Office number is (or ext. 5368); or The independent charity Public Concern at Work on Their lawyers can give you free confidential advice at any stage about how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work. 3.3 External Contacts While it is hoped this policy gives employees the reassurance needed to raise such matters internally, the Trust would rather a matter was raised with the appropriate regulator than not at all. Provided an employee is acting in good faith and has evidence to back up their concern, the following organizations can be contacted: 1 Public Sector Finance: Audit Commission 2 Fraud and Fiscal Irregularities: Serious Fraud Office, Inland Revenue, Customs & Excise 3 Health & Safety: Relevant enforcing authority (Health & Safety Executive) 4 Environment Dangers: the Environmental Agency 5 Others: Charity Commission, Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority Page 5 of 7

6 See Appendix A for contact details If an employee is dissatisfied: If an employee is unhappy with the response, received from the Trust, they can go to the other levels and bodies detailed in this policy. While the Trust cannot guarantee that it will respond to all matters in the way an employee might wish, it will try to handle the matter fairly and properly. By using this policy, employees will help the Trust to achieve this. 3.4 Communication Managers are responsible for ensuring the policy is explained in detail during departmental induction programmes. Reference to the policy is included in the staff handbook. Copies of this document can be obtained from managers or the Human Resources Directorate. 3.5 Review and monitoring Adverse Incident Reports are monitored regularly and reports are made to the Trust Board. This policy will be monitored by the Director of Human Resources and reviewed periodically in conjunction with staff representatives. 4.0 Date for Review May 2014 Page 6 of 7

7 5.0 Appendix A - Contact Details Step One Associate Director, Clinical Governance Joanne Sims Ext: 4910 Senior Nurse Jenny House Ext: 4720 Senior Nurse Fiona Stephenson Ext: 5450 Step Two Executive Directors Stuart Hunter Ext: 4345 Karen Allman Ext: 6158 Richard Renaut Ext: 4561 Helen Lingham Ext: 4988 Medical Director Mary Armitage Ext: 4374 Chairman of MSC John Myatt Ext Non-Executive Directors: Via Chief Executive s secretary Ext: 4242 Step Three Chief Executive Anthony Spotswood Ext: 4242 Chairman Jane Stichbury via Ext: 4242 Other Contacts Public Concern At Work ( Audit Commission ( Dorset & Somerset County Fraud Service Inland Revenue, Bournemouth Customs and Excise Health & Safety Executive ( Bournemouth Borough Council ( Charity Commission ( Occupational Pensions Regulatory Authority Environment Agency NHS Counter Fraud & Security Management Service Page 7 of 7

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