Further to the learning shared by NHS Improvement in May 2019 into NHS people practices, we want to share with our public and staff how we support our people through formal processes as witnesses or those who are accused of misconduct.
We have been asked to share our policies – however to demonstrate our commitment to learning from internal and external lessons, we have summarised our process here for your understanding. If you would like any further information or have any queries, please contact Josie Potts, interim deputy chief people officer, via email.
Prior to instating formal investigations, it is essential we understand the full context of the issues. Our investigations checklist ensures that managers undertake fact finding processes before initiating formal cases which has reduced the number of formal cases that proceed to a formal investigation.
As part of our Terms of Reference, we identify appropriate pastoral support for both the individual accused and witnesses for their health and wellbeing during what can be a very stressful period. Should suspension be considered as an appropriate safeguard to conclude the investigation, the decision is not made by individuals but considered by 2 executive team members who consider all alternative options prior to suspension. Where deemed necessary, this is kept to the minimum duration possible.
Once an investigation is concluded this is considered by the commissioning manager with HR support to decide whether there is a case to answer and if this can be addressed through an agreed outcome process or should be considered at a formal hearing. If this takes place at a formal hearing, the decision is shared between an independent manager and someone from HR.
Finally, for oversight we have a nominated non-executive director who reviews all our suspensions, medical staff cases and employment tribunals, prior to reporting anonymously to the Trust Board, to monitor the fair and equitable application of process for all.
As a Trust we are embarking on a large programme of culture change to fully embrace the just culture, civility and respect and restorative approaches in all our people policies and ways of working. If any of our staff are interested in being involved in this work please consider joining one of our staff networks or the staff experience group – details can be found on the Trust’s intranet.