Since the publication of the Robert Francis report into the Mid Staffordshire Hospital in February, there has been a lot of discussion about the need for a culture of openness, transparency and candour in healthcare services.
Much has been said about the need for openness, transparency and candour in healthcare services, since the publication of the Robert Francis report into the Mid Staffordshire Hospital last month. One of the specific issues in this regard, raised by the report, was that individuals were apparently prevented from raising concerns about patient safety because of so-called ‘gagging clauses’ in agreements with the hospital.
Jeremy Hunt has announced today that so-called ‘gagging clauses’ in NHS settlement agreements, which seek to prevent public interest disclosures regarding patient safety and patient care, will be ‘banned’ with immediate effect.
Welcome to the February 2013 edition of Employment Eye our monthly newsletter with information on the latest employment law developments and how they should be implemented.
This month’s news round-up is brought to you by Alastair Currie and includes the latest news on: TUPE (whether it is ‘static’ or ‘dynamic’); whistleblowing; changes to unfair dismissal as a result of the recent BNP case on politically motivated dismissals; details of new guidance following the recent Eweida case on religious discrimination; and details of new developments on collective redundancy, family friendly rights and settlement agreements.
In a follow-up to our recent alert on the report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Inquiry, Julian Hoskins discusses the practical impact of the report on workforce issues, in a Q&A with Carlton Sadler - the Bevan Brittan Senior Associate who led the team advising one of the core participants in the Inquiry, the Care Quality Commission.
In Lockwood v Department of Work and Pensions
, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has confirmed that an enhanced redundancy payment for older workers did not amount to direct age discrimination, when objectively justified by a strong social policy objective. In this case, the strong social policy objective was the provision of a 'financial cushion' for older workers that reflected the extra difficulties they experienced after losing their jobs. George Pennington explains more.
The lessons learned and recommendations set out in the Francis report are clearly intended to have an impact outside Stafford Hospital. Among many problems highlighted the report identifies:
- A lack of openness to criticism
- A lack of consideration for patients
The Francis report makes challenging reading for commissioners. It is clear that although the successive reforms to the NHS may have amounted to mitigating circumstances, the commissioners, and indeed other interested parties, failed to take adequate steps to prevent the problems at Mid Staffordshire, or to uncover and prevent them from continuing. The report recognises that the system is on the cusp of change but “the experience of Stafford shows an urgent need to rebalance and refocus commissioning into an exercise designed to procure desired standards of service for patients as well as to identify the nature of the service to be provided”.
As Mr Francis QC points out in the report, much has been said about whistleblowing during the Inquiry, and much has been written about it since the Inquiry concluded. It is clear from the report that, while Mid Staffordshire had in place a whistleblowing policy and procedure, it faced serious difficulties in the implementation of that policy.
Welcome to the January 2013 edition of Employment Eye our monthly newsletter with information on the latest employment law developments and how they should be implemented.