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Independents' Day

GP practices given one year to appoint whistleblowing 'guardian'

GP practices should have a whistleblowing 'guardian' in place by September 2017 according to new NHS England guidance.

This is the result of a five-week consultation launched in April, which proposed that each GP practice should have a named person responsible for whistleblowing, the ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’.

Problems that could be referred to the guardian include: poor clinical practice, poor safeguarding, poorly trained staff, a bullying culture and unsafe working conditions.

NHS England's guidance says it recognises that 'no one model can be universally applied, given the sheer diversity of organisational models’ and so implementation of the policy will ‘require each provider to consider how best they can ensure there is a named individual as Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’.

This guardian should be independent of the line management chain, not the direct employer and should ensure appropriate policies are in place and that staff know where to go if they have concerns. Some suggestions for how to do this include arrangements with a local provider, a staff member within a federation, a member of the CCG or NHS England responsible officers.

The guidance also lists some best practice actions for primary care providers, including to ‘devote time to reinforce the message that it is safe to speak up’, run investigations appropriately, ensure feedback to those who raised the concern and ‘ensure there is commendation for staff who raise concerns’ to thank staff for speaking up.

Providers should ‘review and update their local policies and procedures’ by September next year to ensure they are aligned with the new guidance, it added.

NHS England's policy stems from recommendations made by Sir Robert Francis QC last year

Readers' comments (18)

  • I hereby blow my whistle at:

    The CCG,
    The Area Team,
    NHS England,
    The Department of Health,
    The Secretary of State for Health,
    The Prime Minister,

    for failing to ensure adequate investment in primary care in order to provide a safe and high quality service. In light of this deep-seated and corrupt attitude towards not only Geeneral Practice, but also the rest of the health care service in this country, millions of lives, of both patients and health care workers, are at risk.

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  • Well said. Just generate more work load to make it less safe and more form filling to keep more managers in the CCG and NHS England.

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  • @3.23
    Good call.
    And don't forget the CQC and Dr Field.

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  • Kafka comes to mind. I never finished reading 'the trial' but think it's time to try and finish it. Just when you thought the current set up couldn't be worse along comes some well meaning busy body with more ways to monitor, keep check and make sure no one steps out of line.

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  • My cat is a good listener and is independent of my practice. Problem sorted

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  • Why don't we all I'm appoint David of England as our whistleblowing Guardian

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  • I assume the whistle will be fully compatable with our infection control policy i.e. Disposable

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  • we all know what happens to whitleblowers right?

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  • A year - just about the time I need to plan my resignation. Really had a belly full of this.

    bye bye

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  • Such a shame that an important subject such as this is given some of the 'usual treatment' in the comments... There may be plenty to be concerned about in General Practice just now, but this can only be a good thing... unless you don't want your staff to speak up if they have concerns???

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