CQC sets details for NHS whistleblower guardian

According to  Will Hazell, HSJ,   31 July, 2015, the Care Quality Commission has set out proposals for how a ‘national guardian’ for NHS whistleblowers should be established.


‘Under the CQC’s plans the role will answer to its chief executive, but it also pledged to protect the guardian’s independence and said they would have the freedom to criticise the regulator “if they feel it is necessary”.’

The national guardian will advise whistleblowers and trusts.

‘An “independent national officer” to oversee and review the treatment of NHS whistleblowers was one of the main recommendations of Sir Robert Francis’ Freedom to Speak Up review, published in February. The government said earlier this month the officer would be based in the CQC.’

‘In its board papers this month, the regulator sets out its proposals for how the role, renamed the “national guardian”, should work.’

The guardian would have the following key duties:

  • providing support & advice local NHS whistleblower guardians;
  • sharing good practice and reporting on common themes;
  • advising trusts; 
  • advising staff raising concerns.

The role however, will not have any statutory powers.

The guardian will be able to identify incidences where whistleblowers have not been properly treated and suggest remedies. However, they will not have the power to make trusts comply.

The guardian’s focus will be on concerns arising from their appointment onwards. This does not include historic whistleblowing cases, and would not extend to primary or adult social care.

According to HSJ, CQC plans the post would be appointed and managed by its chief executive. The appointing panel would include representation from NHS England, Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

To try to preserve the guardian’s independence, the Guardian would be placed outside the CQC’s executive team. In addition,their reports would not have to be signed off by the CQC.

“This would mean that the national guardian would be free to point out where any arm’s length body had not followed good practice,” the board papers say.

According to Will Hazell, HSJ, the CQC said that because the guardian would be hosted within the organisation, they would have the opportunity to ensure its internal processes are in line with best practice, “avoiding a situation where the national guardian would need to criticise CQC in a report”.

“However, it is important that the national guardian is free to do so if they feel it is necessary”, according to the document. However,  in absence of any statutory power, or the need for Trusts to comply, the effectiveness of the role will be limited.

The guardian, will be appointed by December 2015 and  is expected to be supported by a small team, by April 2016.

For further details visit HSJ on: http://www.hsj.co.uk/5089310.article?WT.tsrc=email&WT.mc_id=Newsletter2

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