Working with doctors Working for patients

Part 2: Acting on a concern

All doctors

19. All doctors have a responsibility to encourage and support a culture in which staff can raise concerns openly and safely.

20. Concerns about patient safety can come from a number of sources, such as patients’ complaints, colleagues’ concerns, critical incident reports and clinical audit. Concerns may be about inadequate premises, equipment, other resources, policies or systems, or the conduct, health or performance of staff or multidisciplinary teams. If you receive this information, you have a responsibility to act on it promptly and professionally. You can do this by putting the matter right (if that is possible), investigating and dealing with the concern locally, or referring serious or repeated incidents or complaints to senior management or the relevant regulatory authority.

Doctors with extra responsibilities

21. If you are responsible for clinical governance or have wider management responsibilities in your organisation, you have a duty to help people report their concerns and to enable people to act on concerns that are raised with them.

22. If you have a management role or responsibility, you must make sure that:

a. there are systems and policies in place to allow concerns to be raised and for incidents, concerns and complaints to be investigated promptly and fully6

b. you do not try to prevent employees or former employees raising concerns about patient safety – for example, you must not propose or condone contracts or agreements that seek to restrict or remove the contractor’s freedom to disclose information relevant to their concerns

c. clinical staff understand their duty to be open and honest about incidents or complaints with both patients and managers

d. all other staff are encouraged to raise concerns they may have about the safety of patients, including any risks that may be posed by colleagues or teams

e. staff who raise a concern are protected from unfair criticism or action, including any detriment or dismissal.