Hospital disciplinary procedures must be reviewed by March 2021

NHS England’s People Officer, Prerana Issar has signalled a step change in hospital disciplinary procedures urging NHS organisations to review their polices in line with the new national guidance and refresh them annually, if required. This follows the tragic death of senior nurse Amin Abdullah after his dismissal by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in late 2015.

The inquiry into Mr Abdullah’s case and the subsequent recommendations for all NHS Trusts from NHS Improvement highlighted the need for health and care organisations to ensure that their investigations and disciplinary procedures are in line with best practice.

According to a letter seen by the Health Service Journal (pay walled), Issar has written to NHS Trust leaders highlighting the new disciplinary processes implemented by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, the Trust which employed Mr Abdullah, and urging Trusts to ‘honestly reflect’ on their disciplinary procedures.

Trusts are encouraged “to ensure that our people practices are inclusive, compassionate and person-centred, with an overriding objective as to the safety and wellbeing of our people..”.

Issar also makes a clarion call to trust leaders to “commit to tangible and timely action to review on a yearly basis and by the end of this financial year, all disciplinary procedures against the recommendations and that these are formally discussed or minuted at a public board or equivalent.”

She suggests that policies are made available on Trust’s websites by the end of the financial year.

Imperial’s new disciplinary policy and procedure were developed following the findings of the independent investigation by Verita, which were accepted in full by the Trust. Imperial has implemented a range of measures to ensure cases are thoroughly assessed before any investigation or formal procedures are followed, and have subsequently introduced a team of trained investigators, trained managers who hear cases at formal hearings and expanded their pastoral support for employees.

Imperial report that following the introduction of these measures, they have reduced formal disciplinary investigations and hearings by a third. They have also reduced the likelihood of staff from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background being subject to a disciplinary hearing to a level where their BAME staff are now no more likely to be subject to disciplinary action than their white colleagues.

Where next

HR teams and trust boards need to review their organisations’ current procedures and processes ensuring that they comply with best practice and stand up to the scrutiny as described by Prerana Issar – and by March 2021.

Do get in touch with Jog Hundle , Stuart Craig or Rebecca Pallot  if you would like to discuss a review of your investigation and disciplinary procedures or training for your Boards and senior managers on their implementation.

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