John Barwick - Chief Executive and Registrar
Recently, HCPC, in collaboration with seven other professional healthcare regulators, published the latest Whistleblowing disclosures report for 2020. The report details all whistleblowing concerns raised with each organisation.
At the same time, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, the SNP’s Health spokesperson, is currently championing the issue by bringing her Public Interest Disclosure (Protection) Bill 2019-21 through Parliament. Dr Whitford said that whistleblowing “is an issue in many sectors … but it is often the NHS and social care cases that stay in our memories, due to the terrible impact on patients and their families.”
The Bill aims to support and protect whistleblowers, and as healthcare regulators, we want to provide a positive message to those considering making a whistleblowing disclosure. At HCPC we take whistleblowing extremely seriously. We recognise it is a way for workers to report wrongdoing in the public interest, without being treated unfairly or losing their job. We understand that, as a regulator, we have a responsibility to those who speak up.
Between 1st April 2019 and 31st March 2020, the HCPC received eight disclosures of information. These were from registrants who had concerns about their employers and were seeking advice to ensure they continued to meet our standards. In all these scenarios, the HCPC provided the whistleblower with advice and guidance. Further information can be found in the report.
These concerns highlight the importance of working closely with employers. Since the last reporting period, we have launched an employer hub where we produce content tailored to employers. This includes advice on how to support employees with CPD and supervision and how they can manage concerns about an employee.
The report only just crossed over with the COVID-19 crisis, and we expect this will be reflected in more detail in next year’s report. However, it emphasises the importance of how we responded to the crisis by providing support on raising concerns at this time, though the applying our standards during COVID-19. To further support registrants, we also produced specific guidance on speaking up during an emergency.
These last few months have highlighted the need for a comprehensive Fitness to practise transformation programme. This will be reinforced through a new Registrant health and wellbeing strategy and action plan, intended to deliver a more human-centred approach, covering not only fitness to practise, but all our regulatory functions.
It is more important than ever in these extraordinary times that we all work together to ensure those who raise complaints can do so confidently. By ensuring whistleblowers are supported by regulators, politicians and professional bodies, we can collectively protect the public and keep people safe in a health and care setting.