Below you will find our Whistleblowing Policy (July 2014). For more information about our approach to Whistleblowing, including the introduction of our own dedicated confidential freephone number please click here.
Whistleblowing is the act of raising concerns about malpractice, wrongdoing or fraud at work. Employees are often the first to realise that there is something seriously wrong with working practices, treatment of clients or if systems are not being followed. Staff may feel that they are not able to express their concerns as they feel that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or to Prime Life. This Whistleblowing Policy encourages and enables employees to raise serious concerns within Prime Life rather than overlooking a problem so that it can be investigated and appropriate actions taken so that both clients and staff are safeguarded.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) provides legal protection against detriment for workers who raise concerns in the public interest (also known as making a disclosure) about dangers, risks, malpractice or wrongdoing in the workplace which affects others. To be protected the disclosure must fit the criteria as outlined in section 6 of this policy.
Within the social care sector there are also moral, ethical and professional issues to consider in relation to raising concerns.
Staff registered with a professional regulatory body such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) have to adhere to their respective codes of conduct which place a duty on the practitioner to raise concerns where they see instances of poor practice or wrong doing.
It is an expectation of Prime Life that all social care workers that it employs abide by the Social Care Code of Conduct. Prime Life provides a copy of this code of conduct on employment and reinforces this requirement within the Employee Handbook.
2. Policy Statement
Prime Life is committed to the highest possible standards of openness, integrity and accountability in order to comply with its Duty of Candour (the volunteering of any relevant information regarding the significant harm of any person within its care). In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others that we deal with, who have serious concerns about any aspect of the Prime Life’s work to come forward and voice those concerns.
Prime Life believes that safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the clients in its care is paramount and as such takes a zero tolerance to abuse and neglect in all forms and expect their employees to do the same.
Staff are expected to make sure that they understand and follow the Safeguarding Policy and local arrangements for reporting.
The policy applies to all employees, (including those designated as temporary, bank staff, volunteers or work experience), and those contractors working for Prime Life, for example, maintenance staff, drivers etc. It also covers suppliers and those providing services under a contract with Prime Life whilst on their premises.
The Managing Director and Strategic Board have ultimate responsibility for this policy however its implementation and compliance is delegated through senior Management, Registered Managers and all other staff.
3. Aims of the Policy
The aims of the policy are to:
- Encourage all staff to feel confident in raising concerns.
- Question and act upon concerns about practice.
- Provide a way for staff to raise concerns in confidence.
- Ensure that staff receive a response to any concerns raised and how to pursue them if they are not satisfied.
- Provide reassurance that you will be protected from possible reprisals or victimisation if you have a reasonable belief that you have made any disclosures in the public interest.
4. Types of Concerns Covered
This policy document covers the following concerns but not exclusive to:
- Conduct which is an offence or a breach of law.
- Failure to comply with a legal obligation.
- Health and safety risks, including risks to clients, other employees and members of the public.
- Damage to the working environment and work equipment.
- Possible fraud and corruption including mis-use of client and company funds.
- Sexual, physical or other abuse of clients.
- Neglect of clients.
- Actions which are unprofessional, inappropriate or conflict with a general understanding of what is rights and wrong.
- Any other unethical conduct.
Difference between Grievance & Whistleblowing
A grievance tends to be an issue, problem or complaint about their work, working conditions or employment rights. If you wish to complain to management about your treatment and have a personal interest in ensuring that the issue is addressed you should use the Prime Life grievance procedure NOT the whistleblowing route –details of this process can be found within the Grievance Policy.
Whistleblowing is a process to alert others to a concern so that it can be addressed however they do not have a vested interest in the outcome of the investigation and do not need to prove the malpractice.
When an individual raises a concern with a manager, they should consider whether it is a qualifying whistleblowing concern or whether the matter is a personal employment issue which would be more appropriately dealt with through the grievance procedure.
Prime Life will treat all concerns in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal your identity if you so wish. There may be a need, however, for your identity to become known for example during legal, disciplinary or police investigations or proceedings. If this is the case, Prime Life will discuss this with the worker.
This policy encourages you however to put your name to your concern whenever possible as this will help with investigating the concern raised, confirm evidence to substantiate allegations and give feedback to you regarding the concern.
6. Protection for workers
Prime Life recognizes that the decision to report a concern can be a difficult one to make. If what you are saying is true, you should have nothing to fear because you will be doing your duty to Prime Life as your employer and to those that you provide care for. Prime Life will not tolerate any harassment or victimisation and will take all reasonable steps to protect you when you raise a concern. Co-workers who victimise whistleblowers could be held personally liable for their actions.
Prime Life will ensure that any individual who raises a genuine concern under this policy will not be at risk of losing their job or suffer any form of retribution as a result.
Protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA)
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 protects whistleblowers from detrimental or unfavourable treatment and victimisation from their employers and co-workers after they have made a qualifying disclosure (see Appendix 1) of a concern in the public interest. The Act covers all workers including those on temporary contracts or supplied by an agency and trainees. PIDA does not usually cover students or volunteers.
Prime Life encourages its staff to make internal disclosures (raise concerns directly with us) so that we can have the opportunity to address the issue. If a worker makes a qualifying disclosure internally to Prime Life, they will be protected by PIDA.
If a disclosure is made externally there are conditions which need to be satisfied before a disclosure will be protected by PIDA. One of these conditions must be met:
- If the disclosure is made to a ‘prescribed person’ (see Appendix 2), the worker must reasonably believe that the concern they are raising is one that is relevant to that prescribed person and that the disclosure is substantially true;
- A worker can also be protected if they reasonably believe that the disclosure is substantially true, the disclosure is not made for personal gain, it is reasonable to make the disclosure and one of the following conditions apply;
- At the time the disclosure is made the worker reasonably believes that he/she will be subjected to a detriment by his/her employer if they make a disclosure to their employer or;
- The worker reasonably believes that it is likely that evidence relating to the failure/wrongdoing will be concealed or destroyed if the disclosure is made to the employer or;
- The worker has previously made a disclosure to his/her employer
- Additional conditions apply to other wider disclosures to the police or media. These disclosures can be protected if the worker reasonably believes that the disclosure is substantially true, the disclosure is of an exceptionally serious nature and it is reasonable to make the disclosure.
7. How to Raise a Concern
As a first step staff should raise any concerns with their immediate supervisor or Manager either face to face, by telephone, in writing either by letter or email.
If you feel you cannot approach your immediate supervisor/Manager for any reason e.g. they are implicated in the concern you should approach a more senior Manager within Prime Life (see Appendix 3 for Prime Life structure) Concerns can also be made in writing to:
Managing Director Prime Life Limited
121 Knighton Church Road
If you feel that you wish to highlight a concern but are not comfortable approaching your supervisor, Manager, other senior Manager or by writing you can also use the dedicated Prime Life Whistleblowing Helpline.
This is a confidential 24hr free phone line that will enable you to leave a message with your concerns. To make a confidential call please ring the Prime Life Whistleblowing Helpline on:
0333 313 1817
If you feel that you have exhausted all internal routes to raise concerns and feel that nothing has been done and that you believe that the information is substantially true you may raise concerns with an external organisation e.g. the Care Quality Commission (see Appendix 2 for examples of relevant organisations).
Wider disclosures for example to the police or media may be protected under certain circumstances. Significant additional conditions apply to these forms of disclosure in order for disclosure to remain protected, with going to the media being a last resort.
8. Process for dealing with concerns raised
Where a concern has been raised you will receive an acknowledgement of your concern within 24hrs upon receipt of the disclosure.
The concern will be taken seriously and be investigated by the most appropriate person(s) which may include Care Home Managers, Regional Directors & Associates, Director of Human Resources plus other Strategic Directors.
Wherever possible you will be given feedback on the process and outcome of the investigation as soon as it is reasonable to do so.
Prime Life take a serious view on false or malicious allegations and will take disciplinary action on staff that knowing make a disclosure that is untrue.
9. Support when you have raised a concern
Prime Life acknowledges that staff may feel isolated and unsure about what to do when they are thinking about raising a concern or following raising a concern. Advice on the Whistleblowing process is available from the Prime Life Human Resources Team, from the National Whistleblowing Helpline (see Further Guidance & Advice section), from your professional body or Trade Union if you are a member of one. Counselling services may be accessed via your GP or call the national helpline who may be able to help you.
Training on how to raise a concern will be covered during the Induction process and at regular intervals thereafter.
11. Monitoring & Review
Prime Life expects that all concerns raised are reported to the appropriate Regional Director and /or Managing Director.
Outcomes of all concerns raised whether found to be valid or not will be logged. Analysis of themes and trends taken from all concerns raised will be used by Prime Life in a preventative capacity by the senior Management Team on a regular basis and will be used to subsequently inform this policy and procedure.
This policy, procedures and its effectiveness will be reviewed on an annual basis or more frequently if required by both the Prime Life Strategic and Operational Board members.
12. Further Guidance & Advice
Prime Life acknowledges that this policy and procedures cannot cover all eventualities arising from concerns raised.
Further support, guidance documents, good practice guides and bite size learning materials are available from the Quality Matters Team.
A national Whistleblowing Helpline and website are also available to both NHS and Social Care staff using web address http://www.wbhelpline.org.uk/
You can make contact by sending an email, completing the on-line form or calling on 08000 724 725
The website contains lots of useful information for both Managers and workers about raising concerns at work.
Professional regulators such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) are able to provide their members with advice about whistleblowing.