NHS Employers is not a regulatory or prescribed body and is therefore unable to investigate concerns raised by individual members of staff or to act on their behalf.
Regardless of what your concern is about, it's important that you feel able to, and are supported to, raise it with the appropriate person within your organisation. This section addresses the process to raise concerns that are in the public interest. This refers to issues that have wider implications for patients, other members of staff, the general public and/or the reputation of the organisation. You may hear the terms whistleblowing, raising a concern
or speaking up
. All these terms mean the same thing.
If your concern is personal to you - for example, your terms and conditions of employment, pay, equipment, etc - these issues are no less important but should be addressed under your organisation's local grievance policy. If in doubt, always speak to your line manager, human resources department or trade union representative as these people are best placed to advise and ensure the correct policy and protocols are followed.
Familiarise yourself with your organisation's raising concerns policy
All NHS trusts and primary care organisations in England must have a raising concerns policy. This policy will include the type of concern you can raise, how you can raise it, who you can raise it with, and your organisation's commitment to supporting you through the process.
It is important to understand the process used in your organisation to ensure your concern is raised properly.
This policy should be made readily available to you on your organisation's intranet site. If you are struggling to find this, you should contact your human resource department, trade union representative, manager, supervisor or mentor.
If you are a registered healthcare professional, further guidance can be found on the relevant professional regulatory body's website.
Find out who you can talk to in your organisation
Wherever possible, you should raise your concerns with your line manager, supervisor or mentor. This can be done informally, formally, as an individual or as a team. If this isn't possible, you may also find it useful to seek advice from your trade union representative, nominated person within the organisation - such as a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, or other person identified in your organisation's raising concerns policy.
Understand when and how to escalate a concern
If you are unable to raise your concern within your organisation, or your employer has failed to adhere to policy requirements, or the issue you wish to raise is so serious that there is a wider risk to patient or public safety, you may need to escalate your concerns to a prescribed body. Prescribed bodies do not have the power to investigate individual concerns but can hold organisations to account in meeting their legal responsibilities to address concerns appropriately.
A list of prescribed bodies can be found on the gov.uk website.
Know where you can access independent advice
If you are unsure how to proceed with your concerns, or want more information about your rights when doing so, the following bodies provide free, confidential and independent advice.
- Speakup.direct - the national helpline for workers in health and social care. Tel: 08000 724 725. Alternatively, you can use their web form.
- Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work) - a whistleblowing charity providing advice and expertise to workers across all sectors. Tel: 020 3117 2520.
- Citizens advice provides support to the public on a wide range of domestic, legal and employment issues, including raising concerns.
These bodies can also provide you with advice on your legal rights when raising concerns under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA). A helpful guide to PIDA can be found on the Protect website.
Additional guidance for staff outside England
For NHS staff in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you may find it helpful to refer to the following websites.
Health Inspectorate Wales, Department for Health and Social Services and the Care Council for Wales.
Care Inspectorate, Health Improvement Scotland and the Scotland Services Council.
Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority Northern Ireland, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and Northern Ireland Social Care Council.