Providers need to have robust whistleblowing policies in place, says law firm
3 September, 2020
Social care employers need to have robust and well managed whistleblowing procedures in place so that their staff have the confidence to report complaints internally, rather than directly to the Care Quality Commission, says James Sage, partner at law firm Royds Withy King.
“A recent study by the Daily Express indicated that there has been a significant increase (66%) in complaints made by care staff to CQC during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the majority of concerns raised relating to infection control, social distancing and a lack of PPE,” said Mr Sage.
“It comes as no surprise that this unprecedented situation has created an increased risk of whistleblowing disclosures due to health and safety risks. However, it is a concern that staff are bypassing employers and making reports directly to CQC.”
Mr Sage offers some practical tips for dealing with whistleblowing disclosures. Providers should:
- Ensure managers are alert to the increased risk of whistleblowing disclosures during Covid-19 and have sufficient training to spot them.
- Have a clear policy on how concerns should be raised.
- Reassure staff that they are positively encouraged to raise concerns so that they can be investigated, addressing any failings and learning from any mistakes that have been made.
- Reassure staff that the disclosure will not adversely affect their position at work.
- Recognise that having a facility for anonymous reporting is also likely to encourage concerns being raised internally in the first instance.
- Remember that a worker only has to have a reasonable belief in the alleged wrongdoing and can still be protected even if they are mistaken about the perceived wrongdoing.
- Discuss with the worker what additional support they might need during what can be a difficult or anxious time with access to mentoring, advice and counselling.
- Keep the worker informed of the progress of the investigation.
- Record the number and nature of whistleblowing disclosures and regularly audit them to spot any patterns.