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NHS England is today confirming the steps it is taking to make it easier for primary care staff to raise their concerns so that action can be taken and improvements made.
New whistleblowing guidance has been drawn up following a five-week consultation with staff working in primary care. The guidance comes after Sir Robert Francis recommended that the principles outlined in his Freedom to Speak Up report be adapted for primary care, where smaller work settings can present challenges around anonymity and conflicts with employers.
In April this year, NHS England became a ‘prescribed person‘, meaning primary care service staff working at GP surgeries, opticians, pharmacies and dental practices, can raise concerns about inappropriate activity directly to NHS England.
At the same time, NHS England also launched the consultation on new whistleblowing proposals for primary care. Submissions helped strengthen the proposals and as a result key measures in the new guidance include:
- Each NHS primary care provider should name an individual, who is independent of the line management chain and is not the direct employer, as the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. They can raise awareness of how staff can share a concern and offer support to staff who do so.
- NHS primary care providers should be proactive in preventing any inappropriate behaviour, like bullying or harassment, or discrimination towards staff who raise a concern.
- All NHS primary care providers should review and update their local policies and procedures by September 2017, to align with the new guidance.
Neil Churchill, NHS England Director for Patient Experience, said: “Safety in primary care depends on listening to, and acting on, concerns raised. This new guidance will help ensure that if someone witnesses a risk to patient safety, they can speak out without reprisal and confident that effective action will be taken.
“A safe NHS is an open and honest NHS where we routinely learn from mistakes and use that learning to improve patient safety.”
For more details please visit our whistleblowing section.