Today, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), in collaboration with seven other professional healthcare regulators, has published the latest Whistleblowing disclosures report for 2020. The report details all whistleblowing concerns raised with each organisation.
As healthcare regulators, we want to provide a positive message to those considering making a whistleblowing disclosure. We take whistleblowing extremely seriously, and recognise it is a way for health and care professionals to report wrongdoing in the public interest, without being treated unfairly or losing their jobs. We understand that, as a regulator, we have a responsibility to those who speak up.
Between 1st April 2019 to 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. The subject of these disclosures ranged from concerns about the level of training a registrant received, an employer’s response to risk in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to employer policies around medication and their storage.
In all these scenarios, the HCPC provided the whistleblower with advice and guidance.
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 is published a day before Dr Philippa Whitford’s Public Interest Disclosure (Protection) Bill 2019-21, is due its second reading in Parliament. The Bill seeks to better protect whistleblowers and hold their regulators to account. This is an issue that has attracted cross-party political support. The HCPC welcomes the Bill and continues to positively and proactively engage with Dr Whitford, and other policy makers, regarding this important issue.
The end of the reporting period only slightly crossed over with the COVID-19 crisis, and we expect this will be reflected in more detail in next year’s report. A key part of our response to the crisis was to provide timely advice to registrants on our Standards in response to their concerns. This included advice pages on supervision, scope of practice and raising concerns. The COVID-19 related disclosures referred to above were key in shaping the guidance we provided on our COVID-19 hub.
These last few months have further 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.
Jacqueline Ladds, Executive Director of Policy & External Relations says;
“We understand the challenges health and care professionals have experienced this year, and recognise they need to be supported if they want to make a whistleblowing disclosure.
"It is our hope that our plans to deliver a more human centred approach in how we carry out our regulatory functions as well as our approach to registrant health and wellbeing facilitate this.
"We also continue to strengthen our work in relation to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). This includes consideration of any EDI impacts as part of our review of the standards.”
* The eight professional regulators who have jointly published the report are the: General Chiropractic Council, General Dental Council, General Medical Council, General Optical Council, General Osteopathic Council, General Pharmaceutical Council, Health and Care Professions Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council.