Monitor has announced that it will publish plans for a national whistleblowing policy.
The health regulator will insist on every organisation within the NHS adopting this new policy.
This singular whistleblowing policy, that will thus operate across the NHS, has been drawn up by a collaboration of three organisations.
Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England drafted the policy co-operatively as a result of the Freedom to Speak Up review published earlier this year by Sir Robert Francis QC.
The proposed policy provides a guideline for health professionals with regard to whistleblowing action in the future.
In particular, there are provisions contained within the legislation to ensure that bullying or acting against a whistleblower is an act liable for disciplinary action.
A key aspect of the policy reads thus:
“Don’t wait for proof. We would like you to raise the matter while it is still a concern. It doesn’t matter if you turn out to be mistaken as long as you are genuinely troubled. If you raise a genuine concern under this policy, you will not be at risk of losing your job or suffering any form of reprisal as a result. We will not tolerate the harassment or victimisation of anyone raising a concern.”
The policy continues:
“Nor will we tolerate any attempt to bully you into not raising any such concern. Any such behaviour is a breach of our values as an organisation and, if upheld following investigation, could result in disciplinary action.”
The intention behind that policy is to ensure that individuals can feel comfortable in coming forward to legitimately reveal inside information about the health service.
Anyone acting in good faith can therefore be confident that they will not be punished.
On the other hand, malicious rumours are not to be encouraged, and this is also outlined explicitly in the policy.
Monitor revealed in the document that it has consulted with numerous organisations in order to produce this critical policy.
“Having listened to organisations representing whistleblowers and employers, we believe this policy expresses the spirit and intent of the Freedom to Speak Up vision. Our intention is that the policy should be adopted by all NHS organisations in England except for primary care providers. We hope it will also be adopted by independent providers of NHS healthcare,” it is stated in the document.
Meanwhile, a consultation process is currently taking place ahead of the finalisation of the document.
This will be included on 8th January, but a provisional version of the document will be published in the next 24 hours.
Commenting on the policy, Dr Kathy McLean, medical director at the NHS Trust Development Authority, emphasised its importance.
“We know that when trusts take concerns seriously and investigate them properly they are often the ones which provide the best standard of care and treatment to patients. It is hugely important that trust boards are able to listen to what their staff have got to say and then use that to take action to deliver improvements for patients. This policy should help them do just that.”