People regularly identify risks or harm, and speak up to get them dealt with. This is usually very successful, with no repercussions for the person raising the concern. This is ‘business as usual’ and describes everyday processes or actions that deal with an issue or concern, including formal processes for identifying and improving patient safety. Some examples would be:
- reporting short staffing on DATIX (a system used for recording a range of incidents and reports by NHS boards), and action being taken to deal with this
- raising an issue during a team meeting or handover, leading to an investigation or action (or both), or
- an issue being investigated through an existing safe-practice review or audit.
It’s not possible for these Standards to apply to every action that is taken through business as usual processes. These Standards will only apply if the person raising the concern asks for it to be handled under this procedure.
However, people who raise a concern should not necessarily need to know these Standards. Managers should identify issues which would be appropriate to handle under these Standards, and tell the person about the procedure. This might apply, for example, if the person is worried about their concern not being acted on or if they are worried they might be victimised by colleagues or management as a result of raising the concern.
Organisations should have service standards in place for their various business as usual processes. Whatever the issue and however it is raised, the organisation is expected to respond appropriately to concerns, and must not tolerate victimisation of anyone who raises a concern. How the person is treated through business as usual processes, and the organisation’s response to the concern, can form part of any subsequent investigation by the INWO.