Our response to the Department of Health 'safe space' consultation

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NHS Employers has responded to the Department of Health's (DH) 'Providing a safe space in healthcare safety investigations' consultation. 

Our response, on behalf of employers, is focused on the aspects of disclosing and sharing information as part of an investigation which is undertaken when a member of staff raises a whistleblowing concern. It recognises the different views that stakeholders have along with a common desire to ensure safe, effective, care through constant learning and improvement. 

Key points

  • We agree that legislation supports the protection of information disclosed, however we have concerns about the introduction of any additional statutory requirements to prohibit the disclosure of investigatory material and the limited circumstances of when the prohibition may be lifted for locally-led investigations.
  • We remain unconvinced that the prohibition of information, or enforcing additional statutory legislation, helps to create the right conditions for staff, patients and families to speak up and have confidence in the system.
  • It will be important that any new legislation and/or statutory guidance addresses how we create a safe space alongside developing the infrastructure i.e. focusing on leadership, capacity and the quality of investigations.
  • Organisations will need to be supported to up-skill and train individuals who may be involved in taking local investigations forward.
  • It will be important that guidance reinforces the importance of providing feedback to staff who have raised concerns (as far as possible)
Download the full response from our case studies and resources section of the website.

Next steps

The DH is currently analysing the responses and will publish the outcome in due course. NHS Employers will continue to work with colleagues at the DH and ensure employers are made aware of the next steps as soon as this information becomes available.

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