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.

 

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.

Strange English Laws

Old England had the strangest of laws. Charles Dickens called the law an idiot and an ass.

Although old England had so many strange laws in times past. Those laws made complete sense as at then, but in recent times the commission have been repelling some of them.

In 1965, the Law Commission was commissioned and was charged with the mandate of repealing ancient English laws and also updating them. The law commission is responsible for reviewing ancient laws and recommending appropriate changes to be made.

It is not an easy job wading through dusty statute books that are ancient searching for old English laws that are strange and adding them to the Repeal Bill, they do this because they have no jurisdiction crossing these laws out. It is only the parliament that has this power after deliberating on them for some time.

One example of England weird laws;
In 1307,a law was passed, that stated that the whales that are dead and seen on the British coast automatically becomes the king’s property. Also, the tail of the whale is to be given to Queen to make her corset. Looking at history, in the year 1307, on 7th July that same year, Edward I died and as his dying wish, Edward I asked his son to take his bones along, when going to conquer Robert the Bruce of Scotland.

Placing a stamp that bears British monarch in a wrong way, is an act of treason and it is punishable by death.

On the 25th of December, It was also illegal to eat mince-pie and this was applied in all of England.

Another English law states, not disclosing information to the taxman is illegal, but disclosing information you don’t mind telling him, is not. This was the law under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006.

In the 1800, many criminals were sentenced to death on the bases of different crimes committed, such as; impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner, picking pockets, forgery, murder,sheep-stealing, treason, stealing money, horse-stealing,damaging properties and so much more, there are about two hundred in total.

Archery Law
It is mandatory for males who are English and above the age of fourteen to take longbow lessons every weekend for two hours. a church official supervises. As at that time, since no armies existed, only trained infantry, knights, archers and others that existed. Trotters Bottom in Hertfordshire was one of the oldest archery range that still exists till date. Archery ranges were usually located on the extreme end of the field.

Shooting of a Welsh person on Sunday in Hereford was prohibited except with a Longbow, murdering a Welsh person at all hours of the day, so far he is within the city walls.

It is illegal in York, to kill a Scotsman carrying a bow and arrow within the city of York, but this law is not applicable on a Sunday.

English Laws that are Weird
Seeing a mannequin that is naked is illegal for all ten year old boys.

Hanging a bed from a window is illegal.

Leaving and picking up luggage that was abandoned is also illegal.

It is allowed for all English males to urinate behind the wheel of his vehicle but he must place his right hand on it.

In the late 16th Century, a law was introduced to outlaw “molly houses” where homosexuals committed immoral acts. This law banned two or more males from having sexual activities in a house.

English females eating chocolate in public is illegal.

It is a crime to commit suicide in England. Although this law was repealed.
It is considered an offence to be drunk in an inn, this is because the premise is licensed.

It was illegal not to carry bags of oats and bales of hay, when using Carriages in London. The reason for this is that in ancient times horses drawn. In 1976, This law was repealed. Even till this day, all public transport drivers must ask their passengers their smallpox status and it is illegal to carry corpse or sick dogs in your cab without asking for permission from your passengers. At that time it was illegal to impersonate or dress like a Chelsea Pensioner in order to get unmerited pensions. There were brave men who risked their lives for their country and less brave men who were cowardly laying claims to another’s pension. Impostors were sentenced to death when caught.

In 1682, King Charles II Founded The Men in Scarlet. It is a sanctuary for veterans to get relief and treatment from war injuries. It can still be seen, if you are visiting Westminster.

Christmas was considered illegal at 1647, by the English parliament. A Puritan leader banned all festivities relating to Christmas, but after the Puritans left the governing authority in 1660, Christmas was made legal. Then, anyone who celebrated Christmas was arrested.

Keeping a pigsty is allowed for all Londoners, especially in front of their house.
In 1797, John Hetherington who hated London, publicly carried his Top Hat he created. As a result he pulled a large crowd of people but unfortunately for him many women fainted as a result of the noise and a little boy broke his arm. He was fined fifty pounds for disturbing the king’s peace and coming out of his house wearing a shining lustre that was tall, it was seen by the court as a way of frightening people. He was charged and fined.

Shaking a carpet in the street of the Metropolitan Police District was illegal, but this action becomes legal before 8am and nothing later.

Dyeing was illegal in the Houses of Parliament Wearing a full suit of armor by a member of parliament is illegal when worn to the House of Commons.

Trading on Sundays.
Only carrots were allowed to be sold on a Sunday. This law made it relatively illegal to sell anything else. Those business owners that wished to sell their wares sold carrots for huge sums of money, but gifted their wares in return.

Buying and selling of the bible on Sunday was illegal, but Buying and selling dirty magazines was legal on a Sunday.

A Chinese shop can open on Sunday and must sell chips and fish only, but the opening of an English traditional shop that sells fish and chips on Sunday was illegal.

Domestic Violence
It is a popular saying that you should not beat your spouse with anything wider than your thumb, this is derived from an ancient law (rule of thumb).
I have searched hard for the original document that contain wife beating and the rule of thumb. My search proved futile but I found a saying that a carpenter measures with his thumb as a ruler, substituting it for a measuring stick. I apologise for straying of topic but debunking the ancient English law (the rule of thumb), was my aim.

Giving breadcrumbs to a pregnant woman is a must for a baker. Also refusing a woman that is pregnant the right to use a toilet is illegal for a pharmacist.

A woman with an unborn child has the right to urinate anywhere she wants to. In the whole of England this law is enforced.