CQC propose to bring in a Whistleblowing National Guardian for the NHS which it is hoped will help to bring about a culture change within the organisation. This Guardian will take a national approach to good practice and will advise NHS organisations and local representatives and publish reports in relation to its work.
This proposal aims to encourage communication of poor practice whilst also encouraging good practice where it is seen. It was decided that this Guardian would sit within CQC and within the proposals the independence, perceived or otherwise, is of paramount importance to the success of the Guardian’s operation. Integral to the success of this proposed new operation is the development of local champions so called ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardians’ who are to be installed in every trust.
The new Guardian will gain its power through affiliation with CQC, Monitor, TDA and NHS England rather than through statute in a move which is clearly designed to circumvent the time/ political hurdles involved in setting up a new body. In spite of this lack of statutory power it is proposed that the Guardian will have the ability to refer concerns raised onto the relevant regulator and therein lies its power.
Commenting on the new appointment, David Behan, Chief Executive of the CQC, said “Staff in the NHS are committed to delivering good care day in, day out. Sometimes things will go wrong and staff will raise concerns about the quality and safety of patient care. Good organisations respond to these concerns openly and transparently as a normal part of working. This results in better and safer care. The National Guardian, with the support of local Freedom to Speak Up Guardians, will contribute to the changing culture that is needed to ensure that this good practice exists everywhere and that staff are encouraged to speak up and are supported to do it.”
CQC is actively recruiting for the National Guardian at present and hopes to have the postholder in place by the end of the year with substantive reviews of cases to begin from April 2016.
This new Guardian will have a supervisory role in the endeavour to investigate concerns and improve the culture of openness within the NHS. However, the new office may have missed a beat in failing to incorporate adult social care and independent healthcare within its remit. The consultation on these proposals closes on 9 December.