New Changes Within NHS Trusts That Protect Whistleblowers

The NHS is an institution that the British public is very proud of and should be lived up to. Everyone involved from doctors to nurses and other professionals within health care perform a tremendous service looking after and caring for those who are injured or ill. As of this year, in order to improve confidences within NHS, there are new policies and procedures guidelines that support whistleblowers that each National Health Service had to review.

Deliberations were concluded in May of 2016 and the final guidelines were released this year. The new policies were introduced after an intense period of discussions and after reviewing the reluctance of NHS staff to step forward with their concerns regarding the safety of patients and inadequate funding.

Many of the leading healthcare workers have long believed that speaking up had many consequences including:

They worked within a small team and feared the backlash they would get from their colleagues. They were also afraid of losing their jobs if they raised any concerns to their employer. Workers in ancillary and non-clinical positions felt they had fewer options because they did not have access to a prominent group of leaders or a union.

The National Health Service Director for Patient Experience strongly believes that in order to have the safest health system takes listening to their staff and taking action where needed. Should a staff member discover something that is putting patients at risk, they should feel safe in expressing these concerns without repercussions.

The new guidelines have been put in place to create good practices, provide primary care staffers more options in order to share their concerns, and allows employers to handle these concerns correctly. In order to have a safe NHS, there must be open and honest communication in order to routinely learn from their past mistakes. They should take these mistakes and learn how to improve their patients’ safety.

Whistleblowing can help point out bad practices going on within an organisation. That said, these claims must be honest because the final outcome could lead to criminal actions against an organisation while unveiling cover-ups that are dangerous and not in the best interests of patients.

In 2014, an independent review board, chaired by Sir Robert Francis, revealed that whistleblowers within NHS were intimidated, bullied, ignored, and, in many cases, fired. During an interview, Sir Francis stated that approximately 30% of those raising concerns felt unsafe after speaking up.

He went on to point out that 18% of staff employees did not trust the system and therefore would not speak up. Another 15% stated they were afraid of being victimised if they were to say anything at all. This climate of fear was created by a number of people losing their jobs because they chose to speak up. These people have lost their jobs, their livelihood, and have found it very difficult to find new employment. Sadly, some cases have felt suicidal tendencies or became seriously ill in the aftermath. Before releasing his report, Sir Francis said nurses, in particular, had raised many concerns regarding intimidation and bullying within NHS Trusts.

A survey conducted in 2013 of 8,262 nurses revealed that 24% had been warned against making any public statements regarding their concerns. Approximately 45% of the participants said their employers took no actions regarding their concerns and 44% were very concerned about suffering from repercussions or being fired. Other threats made them think twice about whistleblowing about dangerous or negligent practices they had witnessed.

Based on the recommendations of Sir Francis’s report, the foundation for establishing a new NHS guideline regarding whistleblowing was born. The new policies offer steps to protect the safety of NHS employees who speak up.

Each NHS Trust should appoint a Freedom To Speak Up Guardian. This individual should not be within the chain of command management group. He or she will provide support to staff members who have genuine concerns. There should be further steps taken to prevent inappropriate behaviour including harassment, discrimination, or bullying toward staff members who speak up.

All NHS primary care providers were required to review and update their policies and procedures by March of 2017. The principles of the agreed upon guidelines were then incorporated.

Last year in 2016, Dr. Henrietta Hughes, medical director for NHS England’s North Central and East London region, was named National Guardian for Safeguarding of Whistleblowers. Paraphrasing a statement after her appointment, she believed it takes a lot of courage, honesty, and selflessness to be a whistleblower. She also said that no one should ever be afraid to come forward for fear of punishment when speaking up for the safety and care of patients.

Along with her office, their national partners, and anyone who wants to support and protect staff members who speak up will help her drive a new agenda of openness. “Ultimately, these new policy guidelines will make for a safer NHS.” Staff members will have a great deal of support and gain confidence in speaking up especially for the public’s interest in safety.

The Case Of Dr. Hayley Dare – Feb 11, 2015:
Dr. Dare had a perfect 20-year reputation for helping patients and excellence within her field. Her entire career was damaged when she chose to speak up about concerns for patients’ safety to the CEO of the West London Mental Health NHS Trust. Absolutely no one should ever have to go through such a horrific experience like she did.

The NHS Trust spent £130,000 fighting Dare’s accusations, even though they understood that her claims were accurate. She was harassed, called “A Very Disturbed Women”, bullied, and then fired. After losing her job, based on a legal technicality, the Judge said her disclosure was not made in good faith (which did not exist at the time) and a provision that no longer has to be satisfied. The NHS Trust went after Dr. Dare for £100,000 in court costs.

In Conclusion:
Things have changed thanks to Sir Francis’ report, the creation of the Freedom To Speak Up Guardianship, the network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians in NHS Trusts, and others who support and protect those who speak up. No one should ever go through this again.

About Sir Robert Francis:
He is a British barrister who specialises in medical law, treatments for mental and medical issues, clinical discipline and negligence. He has chaired various independent investigations.

 

Advice On What To Do If You Are Falsely Accused Of A Crime

There are very few situations in life that are as devastating as being accused of a crime you did not commit. Your current and future reputation and freedom are at stake and should never be taken lightly!

If you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you should take and what you need to know in order to proceed forward. Failure to take proper action will lead to a very bad outcome including prison time, even if you are innocent.

Here are some useful tips that you should follow and how to deal with a false accusation;

First off, you should fully understand what charges are being brought against you. It is crucial that you defend yourself against charges that have been brought against you falsely. Once you understand what the charges are and have taken the steps to get legal representation, you will be in a much better position. If you do not have an attorney, at the moment, go online and read legal articles to fully comprehend the charges being filed against you.

You should hire a solicitor as quickly as possible or if you already have a solicitor, present them with all your questions and concerns. You must know your rights and how the legal system works. Your solicitor should explain what charges are being brought against you and what steps will be taken by the attorney and his team.

The following are important tips to help you get the best possible outcome in securing results that will work in your favor:

This is critical – you must completely understand the consequences of the accusations being brought against you, even if you are innocent. Never, disregard the seriousness of the charges because you could still be convicted of the crime. Everything you do at this stage will have an effect on the final outcome from these false charges. Failing to take the proper steps will increase the chances of a conviction and the legal consequences in the future.

Again, get legal representation as quickly as possible and make sure you understand the legal fees and are able to pay. In most cases, you will have to provide a retainer for your solicitor and he or she will go over when additional payments will be made. If accusations of a crime, such as rape or sexual abuse, will lead to a greater risk of a conviction. You must have a strong defense case in order to prove your innocence. Therefore, you must have an solicitor who is experienced in cases such as yours. A good defense attorney will cost more but this is your life you are talking about! Most solicitors will work with you on the financial side. If you do not have a great deal of money, there are many highly qualified attorneys that a few times a year take on pro-bono cases in which they do not charge for their services. It’s worth looking into.

You will need reliable witnesses and evidence that might be available. Your defense team will gather evidence, speak with witnesses and put together your case. Therefore, be sure and give as much information as you possibly have to your defense team.

If you have someone with comprehensive information, be sure and give your attorney their name so he or she can contact them. Be sure and list any and all witnesses of the alleged crime along with character witnesses that can speak in your defense.

False Accusation Of Rape Or Sex Crimes

These cases are taken very seriously and the outcome could be terrible if you are found guilty. Sexual assault, child molestation, rape, sodomy of a minor, child pornography, and indecent exposure are some actions that fall under this category.

Rape is the most common and there are a number of men that have been accused of this crime and know how difficult it is to deal with even though they are innocent. Keep in mind, there are cases in which women have been victims of rape but there are other cases that are false. There are women who accuse a man of rape but in fact, it never happened. There are women who will go to any length to get back at an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband just for revenge. In other cases, she might make up a story to cover her own misconduct or embarrassment. In other cases, alcohol is involved which can alter someone’s memory of the events and lead to misunderstandings. In these cases, it’s really important that an innocent man is able to clear his name. In order to clear your name, follow these tips which your solicitor will also advise you on:

Do Not Let Your Emotions Get Out Of Control

It seems only natural if someone is falsely accused of a crime to confront the accuser. This will only lead to a great deal of stress and enormous levels of anger that can quickly get out of control. If you are in a confrontation, you must keep your temper under control and think clearly. Better yet, just stay away from a confrontation!

Say Away From Your Accuser

The best advice you will be given is to just stay away from your accuser. Confrontations can lead to bigger issues and could lead to losing your case. Just stay away from them. Even if you think you could talk them into dropping the charges, don’t count on it! This can lead to even more problems if she goes before the court with an accusation that you tried to coheres her. If you must meet with or contact your accuser, make sure you have a third party with you. Use text messages or emails that can be saved vs making a phone call. Phone calls can be twisted around so don’t do it.

Your Solicitor Must Be Experienced In Criminal Law

Rape cases are very serious charges, you must have a really good attorney to help you get through this. He or she will be experienced in these cases and will give you valuable advice and will guide you through the entire process. They will put together a list of witnesses and go over the details on the best way to represent you and bring it before the court.

What Is The Motivation Behind The Accusation?

The chances are good that there is a motivation behind accusations if you have been falsely accused of rape. Sit down with your attorney to find out what the motivation might be. A former spouse or partner might be trying to destroy your image out of jealousy or revenge for the breakup. The whole incident could have been consensual sex but if a drug or alcohol was present than clear thinking was thrown out the window. These are situations your attorney will bring before the court in order to clear your name!

In Conclusion

Being falsely accused of a crime is very detrimental and difficult to get through. Follow the advice of counsel and try and keep as calm as possible. Never, ever try to represent yourself in a court of law. This old adage is very true:

If you hire yourself as your lawyer, you have a fool for a lawyer!

This is a very stressful time and you need the best backing to help you get an acquittal of the charges. Hire solicitors that know what they are doing and do what they tell you to do.

 

Legislation To Protect Separating UK Unmarried Couples Overdue

According to the Office Of National Statistics, unmarried couples and families living together are the fastest growing cohabitants in the United Kingdom. As of 2016, there are approximately 3.3 million cohabiting families and the number has doubled since the statistics taken 1996 at 1.5 million.

Legislation for the protection of  unmarried couples and families is well overdue.  Lawyers have been arguing this issue for well over 10 years.  This includes the rights and responsibilities of unmarried couples upon separation and should be addressed as soon as possible.

A recent survey by the Family Lawyers Organisation of its members revealed that 88% of cohabiting couples believe they have legal protection.  It has also shown that 98% mistakenly believed they have the same rights as married couples.

Due to the statistics from surveys, it is believed that legislation for unmarried couples has not provided proper legal protection.  Back in 2007, the Law Commission recommended a plan that would be a contribution-based financial award for separating couples who had a child together and lived together for a certain period of time.  Couples in the plan also had the option to back out if they chose to.

In 2011, the government announced they would not move forward with these proposals.  Even though the commission called on the next government to move forward and not delay, there was a lack of interest or political will.  In light of more pressing issues of national interest, there have been no changes.

Nigel Shepherd, chair of Resolution and head of family law at Mills & Reeve, told Solicitors Journal that his organisation envisions a law where unmarried couples could meet the criteria, through a committed relationship, allowing them the right to apply for certain financial orders upon separation.

This right would kick in automatically unless the couple chose to back out.  The court would be able to make the same orders as they do for divorced couples but on a limited basis.  These benefits could include payments for child care which would allow the caregiver the ability to work.

According to Julia Thackray, former head of the family team at Penningtons and programme leader at Central Law Training, believes reforms are well overdue.  She went on to point out, with the increasing number of couples living together, it is even more critical that the government gets back to the issue of cohabitation and financial protection for these people.  This issue should not be a carbon copy of divorce but should offer some level of protection and as a safety net where  otherwise real needs will not be met.

Unfortunately, there are many cases where people are extremely vulnerable, they have children, cannot work or only work part-time, and this contributes to more family financial concerns.  They have to compromise their earning abilities and limited housing options and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it.  In other situations where couples do not have children but have other expenses, they are not allowed to make a property claim.  Due to other expenses, it may allow the property owner to pay off more on their mortgage so they can have an advantage later on.

In June of 2015, Lord Marks introduced the Cohabitation Rights Bill to address this huge vacuum in the law.  This bill would provide basic protections for unmarried couples and a provision for their property upon one partner’s death.  Under the bill, the court would be able to make a financial settlement order where there is a “retained benefit” or “economic disadvantage” dependent. This would allow for “qualifying contributions” be made for either financial or other reasons.

Before an order can be presented, the court must deem whether it is fair when addressing any “discretionary factors” which would include the earning capabilities of both parties and the welfare of a child.  Couples would also have protection upon a death instead of just separation and this is a very important point.

Lord Marks’ bill also has safeguards in place that would provide protection for insurable interests in lives, being intestate upon death, and rights related to their home.  It also provides for the possibility for a claim against a partner’s estate upon death.

Lord Marks will take part in an upcoming debate to support extending the legal rights of those who choose not to marry.  Those advocating reform will want to stay up on the progress being made by the bill in the House of Lords.  Without a specific date for the second reading of his bill, no one is any closer in guaranteeing cohabitation laws will meet the demands of the 21st century than the Law Commission was 10 years ago.

Unmarried couples should have the same protections and rights as those who are married.  With the growing number of people are choosing to live together vs marrying, the government must address these concerns in a timely manner.