NHS reforms

06.02.19

Senior managers to face new competency standards as Hancock pledges to protect NHS whistleblowers

New competency and ethical standards to clamp down on NHS managers have been announced as Matt Hancock promises to change the “morally abhorrent and operationally foolish” approach to whistleblowers in the NHS.

Senior managers of NHS organisations will have to meet competency standards, and the government has pledged to set up a central database for the qualifications, previous employment, and the performance of directors.

Matt Hancock’s announcement comes after a review of the NHS’s fit and proper persons test, led by Tom Kark QC, produced seven recommendations for how the government can better support NHS senior leaders to deliver high-quality and safe care.

In addition to the two above recommendations accepted by the government, the remaining five will be considered as part of a workforce implementation plan led by Baroness Dido Harding later this year.

In a speech in London today, Matt Hancock will promise to create a “more just culture in the NHS, starting at the top,” and criticise the NHS for forcing whistleblowers to risk their jobs if they want to speak up about safety risks.

The health secretary will say: “Mistakes should be seen as an opportunity to learn and improve, not a need for cover-up and denial.

“So whistleblowers are doing the NHS a great service. Someone, who has the courage to speak up and put their head above the parapet, should be encouraged and embraced.

“Yet, sadly, all too often, they're ignored, bullied and worse – forced out.

“Making someone choose between the job they love, and speaking the truth to keep patients safe, is morally abhorrent and operationally foolish.

“It's an injustice I am determined to end.”

Other recommendations in Kark’s review which are still to be considered include setting up a new organisation that can suspend directors who are found to have committed serious misconduct such as bulling and harassment.

Image credit -  Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

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