To David Behan, Chief Executive Care Quality Commission,
22 October 2015
Dear Mr Behan,
Whistleblowers, whistleblowing governance and CQC’s recruitment process
Further to our letter to you of 10 October we have received the attached response from Jacqueline Jackson your Head of HR Operations.
Ms Jackson indicates that CQC restricted the pool of potential candidates to those currently employed by NHS, DH & arms length bodies because:
“From time to time, CQC may choose to advertise roles to this group first, to ensure deployment, redeployment and secondment opportunities for colleagues”.
This does not address our concern that many exiled whistleblowers would have been excluded by CQC’s restriction.
Neither does Ms Jackson agree to our request that CQC removes its restriction the National Set Up Guardian Post. Her letter suggests that CQC will continue in its current course, and will only remove the restriction if there is no appointment made as a result of the current process.
It is most disappointing that CQC chooses to continue with a recruitment process that it knows will exclude proportionately more whistleblowers, despite the fact that the post in question relates to whistleblowing.
A question arises about whether CQC’s leadership is unenthusiastic about genuine collaboration with whistleblowers.
This much was suggested by the fact that CQC launched a “consultation” on the National Guardian Post on 17 September, after advertising the post behind the Sunday Times’ pay wall on 13 September.
Please advise us clearly whether CQC will remove the restriction on candidates eligible for the National Guardian Set Up Manager post, and so allow exiled whistleblowers to apply.
Please also advise why CQC advertised the National Guardian post, with a supporting position specification, before a consultation had taken place about this post.
cc House of Commons Health Committee
Secretary of State for Health
Shadow Secretary of State for Health
Sir Robert Francis QC, CQC NED
Professor Louis Appleby CQC NED and Chair of CQC Regulatory Governance Committee
Response from CQC:
27th October 2015
Dear Dr Alexander,
Your email of 22 October deals with CQC’s recruitment processes, and, specifically, the use of NHS Jobs. I am responding to you on behalf of David Behan, Chief Executive.
We attempted to deal comprehensively with your concerns in our letter of 10 October. Your email of 22 October nevertheless expresses a concern that CQC has imposed a restriction that excludes whistleblowers from the recruitment process.
First, as we have already made clear, the recruitment process for the appointment of the National Guardian role has been the subject of full and open competition. Further, as we explained in our letter of 10 October, the intention is for the National Guardian to establish a secretariat on appointment. Recruitment to those posts will, as with the National Guardian post, be by way of an open competition.
Because the National Guardian is not yet appointed, and there is a need for work to be undertaken in the interim, a temporary role has been advertised for a “start up manager” on NHS jobs.
This temporary role has been made available to staff within certain areas of the civil service and public sector, a practice which CQC and similar organisations will frequently use for short term appointments such as these. This is because secondments can be offered that maintain continuity of service for staff, and at the same time provide a benefit in terms of development and knowledge both for CQC but also the wider public sector. A decision could be made to widen the recruitment exercise further in the event that suitable candidates are not identified.
CQC is a public body, and its recruitment practices reflect the standards of fair and open competition applicable to the civil service and arm’s length bodies, in line with the civil service recruitment principles.
Finally, the National Guardian consultation asks for views on proposals for the scope of the role to be performed by the National Guardian, the principles underpinning it, and operational arrangements for performance of the function. Proceeding with recruitment in parallel with the consultation means that the appointee will be able to rapidly implement the results of the consultation, and ensure that their role is shaped by its outcome. We see no conflict between the recruitment process, which is not a matter of public consultation, and the proposals for implementation, which, quite properly, are.
Head of HR Operations and Business Partners
Your perseverance is admirable but, however much the CQC (and its associates) may pretend otherwise, leopards are not going to change their spots.
More probable is that, irrespective of background, the objectivity of any appointee will be compromised once enticed into this particular parlour.
Whistle-blowers [What a terrible negative term! Can’t we think of a better word? Whistler?], like Police Informers, are a valuable source of information to make known situations which would otherwise remain secret or unaddressed giving the “Whistlee” powers or money to which they’re aren’t entitled to.
The people who “Whistle” are in my experience, in the main, brave people who often risk losing their jobs, their social credibility not to mention their reputations in order to bring to the public eye or to justice, individuals and organisations, who have acted illegally, abused their positions or who have failed in their public duty/duty of care. The reasons are many, but without the “Whistlers” of this world, people committing these illegal or immoral acts would carry on regardless generally at the taxpayer’s [you & I] expense.
The main question is, should people committing such acts get away with it, If not, who will expose them? Just look at the Banking Industry, the recent exposure of child grooming, the garages who cheat customers with false mileage or false service history on cars for sale, these are just a few of the instances where more “Whistlers” are needed.
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