Legal Position

The European Convention on Human Rights was incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) which reflects article 10 of the Convention in providing the right to freedom of expression. The PIDA came into force on 2 July 1999 and offers a framework of protection against victimisation or dismissal for workers who blow the whistle on criminal behaviour or other wrongdoing (as defined below). Further provisions were introduced by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

Key Points

The Whistleblowing Procedure sets out the framework for dealing with allegations of illegal and improper conduct.

MediOpus is committed to the highest standards of transparency, probity, integrity and accountability.

This procedure is intended to provide a means of making serious allegations about standards, conduct, financial irregularity or possible unlawful action in a way that will ensure confidentiality and protect those making such allegations in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so from being victimised, discriminated against or disadvantaged.

This procedure does not replace other policies and procedures such as the complaints procedure, the Grievance and Harassment and Bullying Policies and other specifically laid down statutory reporting procedures.

This procedure is intended to ensure that the MediOpus complies with its duty under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

Scope

This procedure applies to all MediOpus employees, including Associates and contractors.

This procedure applies to, but is not limited to, allegations about any of the following:

  • Conduct which is an offence or breach of the law
  • Alleged miscarriage of justice
  • Serious Health and Safety risks
  • The unauthorised use of public funds
  • Possible fraud and corruptio
  • Sexual, physical or verbal abuse, or bullying or intimidation of employees, customers or service users
  • Abuse of authority
  • Other unethical conduct
Reporting

Contact Details for Reporting: Magdalin Babiker- Clancy (CEO)

MediOpus recognises that the decision to make an allegation can be a difficult one to make. However, whistleblowers that make serious allegations in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so have nothing to fear.

MediOpus will take appropriate action to protect a whistleblower that makes a serious allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so from any reprisals, harassment or victimisation.

Confidentiality

All allegations will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal a whistleblower’s identity unless the whistleblower otherwise requests. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through other MediOpus procedures such as the Disciplinary Procedure.

Similarly, if the allegation results in court proceedings then the whistleblower may have to give evidence in open court if the case is to be successful.

MediOpus will not, without the whistleblower’s consent, disclose the identity of a whistleblower to anyone other than a person involved in the investigation/allegation.

Anonymous Allegations

This procedure encourages whistleblowers to put their name to an allegation wherever possible as anonymous allegations may often be difficult to substantiate/prove. Allegations made anonymously are much less powerful but anonymous allegations will be considered at the discretion of the CEO/COO.

In exercising discretion to accept an anonymous allegation the factors to be taken into account:

  • The seriousness of the issue raised
  • The credibility of the allegation; and
  • Whether the allegation can realistically be investigated from factors or sources other than the complainant

Untrue Allegations

No disciplinary or other action will be taken against a whistleblower who makes an allegation in the reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so even if the allegation is not substantiated by an investigation.  However, disciplinary action may be taken against a whistleblower who makes an allegation without reasonable belief that it is in the public interest to do so (e.g. making an allegation frivolously, maliciously or for personal gain where there is no element of public interest).

Procedure for Making an Allegation

It is preferable for allegations to be made to an employee’s immediate manager to whom they report. However, this may depend on the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved and who is suspected of the malpractice. For example, if the whistleblower believes that management is involved it would be inappropriate to raise it directly with them.  The whistleblower may then make an allegation direct to any of the following:

  • The CEO
  • Or any member of Board of Directors

If either of the above receive an allegation he/she will consider the allegation and may discuss with either the CEO or other BoD.   The line manager (or either/or both) of the above, after consideration, will discuss with the whistleblower and if they wish to proceed with the allegation will be investigated.

Allegation

Whether a written or oral report is made it is important that relevant information is provided including:

  • The name of the person making the allegation and a contact point.
  • The background and history of the allegation (giving relevant dates and names and positions of those who may be in a position to have contributed to the allegation);
  • The specific reason for the allegation. Although someone making an allegation will not be expected to prove the truth of any allegations, they will need to provide information to the person they have reported to, to establish that that there are reasonable grounds for the allegation.

Someone making an allegation may be accompanied by another person of their choosing during any meetings or interviews in connection with the allegation. However, if the matter is subsequently dealt with through another procedure the right to be accompanied will at that stage be in accordance with the relevant procedure.

Action on receipt of an Allegation

The line manager will record details of the allegation gathering as much information as possible, (within 5 working days of receipt of the allegation) including:

  • The record of the allegation:
  • The acknowledgement of the allegation;
  • Any documents supplied by the whistleblower

The investigator will ask the whistleblower for his/her preferred means of communication and contact details and use these for all communications with the whistleblower in order to preserve confidentiality.

If the allegation relates to fraud, potential fraud or other financial irregularity the Treasurer will be informed within 5 working days of receipt of the allegation.  The Treasurer will determine whether the allegation should be investigated and the method of investigation.

If the allegation discloses evidence of a criminal offence it will immediately be reported to the Board of Trustees and a decision will be made as to whether to inform the Police. If the allegation concerns suspected harm to children the appropriate authorities will be informed immediately.

Timetable

MediOpus will acknowledge the allegation in writing within 10 working days with:

  • An indication of how MediOpus propose to deal with the matter
  • An estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response
  • An indication of whether any initial enquiries have been made
  • Information on whistleblower support mechanisms
  • Indication whether further investigations will take place and if not, why not

Where the allegation has been made internally and anonymously, obviously MediOpus will be unable to communicate what action has been taken.

Support

MediOpus will take steps to minimise any difficulties which may be experienced as a result of making an allegation.  For instance, if a whistleblower is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceedings then MediOpus will arrange for them to receive advice about the procedure and advise on the support mechanisms that are available.

MediOpus accepts that whistleblowers need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Thus, subject to legal constraints, we will inform those making allegations of the outcome of any investigation.

Responsibility for the Procedure

The CEO has overall responsibility for the operation of this Procedure and for determining the administrative processes to be followed and the format of the records to be kept.

Monitoring

A Register will record the following details:

  • The name and status (e.g. employee) of the whistleblower
  • The date on which the allegation was received
  • The nature of the allegation
  • Details of the person who received the allegation
  • Whether the allegation is to be investigated and, if yes, by whom
  • The outcome of the investigation
  • Any other relevant details

The Register will be confidential and only available for inspection by the Board of Directors.

Independent Advice and Further Reading
  • Individuals who feel unsure about whether or how to raise a concern or want confidential advice can contact the independent charity Public Concern at Work on 020 7474 6609 or email helpline@pcaw.co.uk. Their lawyers can give free confidential advice on how to raise a concern about serious malpractice at work.
  • Free information and advice can also be obtained from the Advice, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) – Telephone: 08457 47 47 47.
  • You may feel that it is more appropriate to report some matters to the Health & Safety Executive – 020 7717 6000.
  • Additional information is available at gov.uk/whistleblowing
  • The NSPCC’s whistleblowing helpline is available for employees wishing to raise concerns relating to safeguarding practice – Telephone 0800 028 0285 (8:00am to 8:00pm); Email help@nspcc.org.uk; Postal NSPCC, Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3NH.