Call for healthcare regulators to overhaul disciplinary procedures

NHS Chief People Officer, Prerana Issar, has this month sent a letter to all healthcare professional bodies and regulatory bodies asking them to undertake a review of their guidance and standards that relate to the management and conduct of local investigations and disciplinary procedures – a wider recommendation made by the national advisory group following its investigation into the death of Amin Abdulla.

This call for an overhaul of disciplinary procedures follows a letter that was sent by NHS Improvement chair, Dido Harding in May this year to all NHS providers setting out guidance on disciplinary processes in seven key areas, which included safeguarding people’s health and wellbeing.

Prerana Issar, says in her letter that a broader recommendation made by the advisory group was that regulators too should review their guidance to ensure procedures are fair consistent and aligned. She is seeking all regulators and professional bodies’ “support of this recommendation and agreement to undertake an examination of any such guidance…provided to your registrants.” She refers to the General Medical Council’s 2012 guidance for its registrants: Leadership and management for all doctors, as a good practice guide.

In addition, she invites regulators to consider offering guidance on “a range of specific issues that are relevant to management responsibilities exercised by registrants.” from expectations of high standards of personal conduct and behaviour towards staff to the duty to always act with honesty, compassion and fairness.

With a view to promoting consistency of approach, NHS England and Improvement would be “keen to be consulted on, and to provide support” in the development and/or revision of any new or existing guidance – and, the first point of contact is Prerana Issar’s office.

Ms Issar’s letter also refers to “an appetite for the development of a common framework” for handling concerns relating to all NHS staff – regardless of role, profession or type of NHS organisation. And the starting point for that is the procedures established by ‘Maintaining High Professional Standards in the Modern NHS’, a framework for the initial handling of concerns relating to doctors and dentists. She acknowledges that there will be a need for extensive engagement but is keen to receive “initial thoughts”.

What to takeaway

HR teams and trust boards need to ensure that their health and care organisations disciplinary procedures and processes are now in line with best practice guidance, making sure it reconciles with the seven principles. You are also invited to share your early thoughts on the “common framework” to help with scoping of this piece of work.

Do get in touch with Jog Hundle or Stuart Craig if you would like to discuss issues relating to investigation and disciplinary procedures and training for your boards and senior managers.

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