As you are aware the new National Whistleblowing Standards come into effect on 1 April 2021.
The standards cover all NHS providers i.e. anyone working to deliver an NHS service, whether directly or indirectly including current (and former) employees, bank, agency workers, contractors (including 3rd sector providers) trainees, students, volunteers, non-executives and anyone working alongside NHS staff.
In terms of the construct of the procedure there are strong similarities with our patients complaints procedure i.e. stage 1 – early resolution within 5 working days, stage 2 – investigation closed out within 20 working days, stage 3 is independent external review by the Independent National Whistleblowing Officer (a role which is being undertaken by SPSO). Stage 1 and stage 2 complaints must be recorded on datix and a new module has been developed for this purpose.
Listening and responding to concerns raised by staff about the way services are provided is a vital way in which organisations can improve their services. Promoting a culture that encourages staff to raise issues or concerns is a critical role for senior managers, as is creating a safe space where feedback is welcomed. Ideally, we want to create a culture and environment where concerns are heard and responded to informally, without recourse to formal whistleblowing processes. However, our staff have a right to trigger the formal policy.
As you know there are a range of routes for our staff to raise concerns: line managers, trade unions and our Speak Up Advocates. To support the launch of the new standards and recognising their wider reach we are in the process of recruiting a number of additional advocates, with a particular focus on primary care.
We will be running a number of ‘lunch and learn’ sessions throughout March and beyond to give managers the opportunity to understand what the introduction of the new standards means for them as managers and what responsibilities they have under the standards. A further communication will be circulated via our managers communications network with the details of these sessions. In addition to this there are a series of training modules on the TURAS website which can be accessed via https://inwo.spso.org.uk/guidance-and-resources
The standards themselves can be accessed via the SPSO website on https://inwo.spso.org.uk/national-whistleblowing-standards
The information on the SPSO website is easily accessible and very comprehensive. In addition to this we will be issuing some summarised information for managers.
I would be grateful if you could raise awareness of the standards with your management teams, encourage them to attend the ‘lunch and learn’ sessions and to view the standards and TURAS training materials.
With regards to primary care contractor services David Small will be taking forward discussions regarding the actions required for independent contractors.
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact myself or Ruth Kelly, Deputy Director of HR.
Director of HR & OD