NHS Employers is not a regulatory or prescribed body and therefore is unable to investigate concerns raised by individual members of staff or to act on their behalf.
If you are employed within the NHS and you wish to raise a concern, this section outlines the correct route to follow to ensure your issues are received, listened to and acted on. It also provides information about where you can seek further independent advice should you require it an any stage before, during or after raising a concern.
Below are some practical steps you can take to ensure you are prepared and understand the process for raising concerns.
Is your concern in the wider public interest?
Someone raising a concern usually has no direct personal interest in the issues they are raising and are simply trying to alert others to poor practice, behaviour or actions that they feel need urgent attention. These issues will always have a wider implication hence the public interest element, for example, an impact on patients, other members of staff, the public or the organisation's reputation.
In a grievance, the individual would be expected to be able to provide evidence about the issues they are raising, while there is no such expectation on an individual raising a concern. In the case of a grievance, it will be down to the manager, or someone else in the organisation, to investigate the issues the individual is raising.
Familiarise yourself with your organisation's raising concerns policy
Every NHS trust in England has a raising concerns policy. This policy will include the type of concern you can raise, how you can raise it, who you can raise your concern with and your organisation's commitment to support 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, then your HR or personnel department, trade union representative, manager, supervisor or mentor will be able to signpost you to this.
Understand how to raise a concern
Understanding the process is key to ensure the issues you raise are listened to, properly investigated and that your employer has an opportunity to resolve the issue quickly and effectively.
Your organisation's raising concerns policy will outline who you should raise a concern with, and the appropriate way to escalate it, if necessary.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) outlines a number of protections afforded to individuals when they raise a concern. A helpful guide to PIDA can be found on the Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work) website.
Health Education England has produced two films designed to help you confidentially raise and respond to concerns.
Find out who you can talk to in your organisation
It is recommended that you raise any concerns as soon as possible with your line manager, supervisor or mentor, either informally or formally. If this isn't possible, they you may need to speak to another member of the management team, your trade union representative or other nominated person identified in the organisation's policy, such as Freedom to Speak up (FTSU) guardian, champion or ambassador.
Understand when and how to escalate a concern
If you are unable to raise your concern with your employer or if you're unhappy with how your concern has been dealt with, you can refer it to a prescribed body or person (recognised regulatory body) who can intervene if needed. A list of relevant prescribed bodies can be found on the gov.uk website.
Guidelines on how to escalate a concern with a professional regulatory body, can usually be found on the regulatory body's website.
Know where you can access independent advice
If you are unsure, you can seek independent advice from:
Speakup.direct - they provide free, independent and confidential advice to all staff and contracted workers within health and social care. While the helpline cannot investigate concerns, it can provide advice on whether your concern is indeed whistleblowing and talk you through the process to ensure it is followed correctly. The helpline can advise you how to escalate the concern with a prescribed body if needed.
To speak to a advisor, call 08000 724 725. Alternatively, you can use their web form
Protect - they provide individuals with confidential advice, supporting those who wish to raise concerns that are unsure how to do so.
Citizens advice provides support to the public on a number of things, including raising concerns.
Additional guidance for staff outside of 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.