Managers who cover up NHS failings could be barred for life

30 July 2014

Managers who cover up NHS failings could be barred for life

NHS managers may be refused board positions for life if they are found to be “privy to” serious misconduct, under new laws.

Care Quality Commission (CQC) guidance has been released which suggests that NHS managers who do not blow the whistle on poor medical practice will be barred from working with the NHS. The guidance further adds that as well as failing to whistle blow, the managers would have to have been “privy to” serious misconduct or mismanagement that was going on at the hospital(s) in question and that if this suspicion is raised, it is enough to block the manager from employment on the boards of NHS trusts.

"Senior managers must be held accountable for their actions"

In the wake of the Mid-Staffs scandal, where managers were not held to account for “appalling” failings, a legal requirement that such managers comply with a new “fit and proper person” requirement seeks to alleviate widespread concerns that managers are too often escaping the reach of the law when poor misconduct and mistreatment happens on their watch.

The changes will mean that NHS workers can be barred from working at board level if they are “responsible for, been privy to, contributed to or facilitated any serious misconduct or mismanagement (whether unlawful of not)” can be barred from working at board level.

The guidance has now gone out to public consultation. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association feels that it is a step in the right direction to enforce better patient care in the future and to combat medical mistreatment.

"Trusts are ultimately responsible for the safety of the patients in their care"

She said: "Senior managers must be held accountable for their actions. Where there is evidence that they are delivering sub-standard care or are not leading their hospital safely, then there should be the real threat of their employment being terminated.

"Trusts are ultimately responsible for the safety of the patients in their care, and so we therefore welcome the prospect, although extreme, of prosecution for those who mismanage and are guilty of serious misconduct."

The guidance also sets out details of how a new “duty of candour” placed on organisations would work. If patients have been subject to medical failings and have not received a timely explanation and written apology, they can be prosecuted for failing to do under the new laws.

These rules would apply if a patient has suffered “moderate harm” from their medical care. The guidance says apologies and explanation about the mistreatment should be offered for incidents such as cancelled treatment, readmissions to hospitals that were not planned and when patients suffer “prolonged psychological harm” for at least a month.

Focusing on the most serious failings in care

Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents managers, said: “It is right that breaches of the fundamental standards be treated with utmost seriousness, and that the CQC can respond promptly.”

However, he urged the CQC to make sure that “any prosecutions focus only on the most serious failings in care.”

What the patient can do

If you or somebody you know has experienced medical mistreatment and is unhappy with the way any complaints were handled, the specialist teams at Mistreatment.com can advise you about your patient rights and your options. You can speak with the teams at Mistreatment.com for FREE about how to make an official complaint, start a medical negligence claim or simply to understand better what your alternative options are. You can contact us here today for a no obligation and FREE chat about where you stand.