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Minister launches separate consultations on whistleblowing and violence against health staff


Health minister Robin Swann

Health minister Robin Swann

Health minister Robin Swann

The Department of Health has launched two separate consultations on whistleblowing and violence in the workplace.

Both will seek views on how to better protect healthcare workers and ensure they have a safe environment to operate in.

Health Minister Robin Swann hopes to identify ways to help staff feel safe and confident when carrying out their duties and raising concerns when necessary.

“The capability for anyone to raise a concern with HSC bodies in the interests of the public is an intrinsic means of ensuring services continuously improve and that patient safety is assured,” he said.

“It is crucial that we create an environment for individuals, be they staff or service users, to raise concerns which fall under the public interest and feel confident that they are safe to come forward and report these using the appropriate channels.”

The department is working with trade unions to develop a draft regional policy in relation to whistleblowing – defined as anyone raising a concern in the public interest.

It is in response to recommendations made following a review carried out by RQIA.

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“Work has now completed and it could not be more timely given the recent publication of the report from the Independent Neurology Inquiry,” Mr Swann added.

“That report includes recommendations in relation to ensuring accountability within HSC organisations in relation to patient safety and improving services through a focus on identifying misconduct, poor practice and lessons learned, which this policy will play a part in addressing.”

The Health Minister is also in the process of drafting a policy framework regarding violence at work.

“Creating a safe environment for staff, and all those who use our services is also a major pillar in providing the best services possible,” Mr Swann said.

“Staff spend their working days caring for others and saving lives and they have the right to feel safe from the threat of violence and aggression in the workplace.

"I encourage staff working for Trusts and across the health and social care system, as well as service users and patients, to fully engage with the consultation on this policy and express their views.”

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