FOI reveals multiple concerns with incidents and discipline issues for healthcare providers
Panlogic, the UK’s leading digital engineering consultancy specialising in the public sector, has today announced the findings of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request into 222 NHS Trusts operating across England, Scotland and Wales. The research was undertaken to analyse the application of operational guidance by NHS Trusts and uncovered concern over legal and disciplinary issues, in particular the number of incidents relating to delivering safeguarding measures.
The research found that a third of NHS Trusts (51 out of 150) reported incidents regarding the safeguarding of vulnerable adults and children in the last three calendar years, a substantial figure. Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust recorded 109 incidents, the highest number for the FOI request, with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust reporting the second highest number of incidents (73).
In terms of disciplinary action taken relating to staff not following safeguarding issues correctly, a similarly high 38 Trusts admitted they had to go down this route. Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust reported the highest number of disciplinary incidents (43) followed by East London NHS Foundation Trust (24). Three NHS Trusts (East London, Shetland and County Durham & Darlington) admitted that legal action had been taken against them, due to not following safeguarding guidance correctly.
Regarding the question: ‘How often are safeguarding guidance standards updated?’, nearly half (seventy-three) of the Trusts admitted this was only actioned once every three years. This highlights that guidance can often remain untouched even after major updates and incidents occur, potentially leaving best practice procedures out-of-date and impacting the service that end users receive.
The FOI also covered the ability for NHS organisations to audit their safeguarding guidance against central standards, with eight Trusts not currently having resources in place to audit their guidance centrally.
William Makower, CEO, Panlogic, explains the issues that the FOI has uncovered: “Guidance for NHS Trust staff is an incredibly important resource that must be protected from spending review cutbacks. Along with the issues of incidents, the lack of auditing and regular training shows that a culture of ongoing learning simply isn’t present in some of the Trusts. It’s not enough to simply create guidance; it needs constant engagement and investment in order to truly provide value. Never is this more important than in the upcoming winter months that often see the NHS stretched to its very limit.”
35 NHS Trusts also admitted that guidance could not be accessed via mobile devices. This highlights that safeguarding learning materials cannot be digested by flexible technology that could benefit the busy working lives of healthcare professionals. This could have major repercussions for those that need to access crucial guidance whilst working in the field or while on the move.
Makower added: “It comes as quite a surprise that as the healthcare system in the UK is being modernised, a significant number of NHS Trusts are not applying a more flexible approach to technology use when it comes to important guidance. Just as vital as the contents of guidance is the accessibility of it to staff.”
The length of guidance is also something that clearly needs addressing. 30 NHS Trusts reported having upwards of a hundred pages of safeguarding guidance. The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board admitted its safeguarding webpages spanned 1324 pages. Aside from simply length, guidance of this volume also suggests content that would be bloated, overtly dense and most probably contradictory at points, leaving it difficult for NHS staff to use.
Learn more at www.panlogic.co.uk.