More support for whistleblowers in health jobs

A health body which has been criticised for the way it handles bullying says it is supporting whistleblowers.

By Lucy Ashton
Thursday, 25 July, 2019, 13:57
Sheffield Town Hall

An independent NHS England investigation published earlier this year found evidence of poor behaviour by senior leaders and a breakdown in relationships at the top of Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group.

It said the body’s handling of bullying and harassment cases was unsatisfactory and the CCG lacked a clear strategy. The investigation had been called for by Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts who said he had never heard so many complaints about one organisation.

The CCG said inspectors found examples of good work and of positive experiences but admitted this has not been the experience of all staff and apologised that was the case.

It has put together an improvement plan and says it has spent three months working with staff.

Nicki Doherty, of Sheffield CCG, told a scrutiny board meeting: “We took the feedback on board and built on that and we spent several months talking to staff and stakeholders to ask what’s the real causes behind all of this?

“We have identified key things we need to strengthen or develop. In spite of all these issues our staff continue to work in the jobs they do well and we have been rated as a good organisation. There are some leadership issues but we already have our responses to that.

“We will be monitoring the impact this is having through feedback with staff, and through HR monitoring sickness absence and reporting stress indicators. The governing body has taken full ownership and accountability.”

Ms Doherty said there were more opportunities for staff to raise concerns.

“Whistleblowing was one of the key things and we have revisited the policy. That was done at a very early stage because we had already picked up on it.

“Whistleblowing is quite a significant thing to do and you are undertaking a brave act. We sought to provide staff with as many opportunities as possible to identify things which are wrong and they are not happy with and to support them by saying whistleblowing is a positive thing.”

Employees can go through a staff forum and there is a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian in all NHS trusts.

Ms Doherty added: “We also have director surgeries so staff can speak to any director about anything, whether it’s positive or whether it’s I don’t know what to do about this, can you help?”