NHS investigations go hand-in-hand with transcription services
Across England and Wales, there are a growing number of NHS disciplinary investigations and hearings which are being carried out each year, only some of which reach the headlines. Investigating such cases requires a dedicated team and a thorough and pragmatic process in order to get to the bottom of the issues under investigation.
Common types of NHS investigations
While each case is particular, investigating officers are guided by strict guidelines under which they are required to operate while investigating a case. Investigations concerning staff may relate to disciplinary matters, grievances, whistleblowing or allegations of racial or sexual harassment, amongst others. In such circumstances, an investigating officer is normally appointed by the relevant NHS Trust to conduct the investigation.
The priority of the investigating officer is to establish the facts of the case and whether or not it justifies a hearing. Correctly managed investigations lead to better decision-making, justice and a consistent approach, which employees can have confidence in. As a result of carrying out a well-structured investigation, and a fair and just hearing procedure, the likelihood of appeals or additional actions requiring tribunals or courts can be avoided.
The responsibilities of an investigating officer
Such pre-hearing investigations are typically carried out within a three month period and require the investigating officer to meet with all parties concerned, establish the facts and details of the case. In order to ascertain the key facts, the investigating officer will interview all employees involved in the case, gather all supporting documents, revise the relevant NHS Trust HR policy, which directly relates to the alleged offence, misconduct or malpractice, and at all times maintain and ensure the integrity and confidentiality of the investigation and all relevant data.
The investigating officer’s work culminates in the production of a comprehensive and detailed report on the case, and if necessary, attendance at the hearing if it is decided that there is a case to be heard.
As part of the investigation, the investigating officer’s activities will involve:
• Planning the investigation.
• Clarifying the exact nature of any complaint or allegation.
• Liaising with HR support to organise correspondence and transcription of interviews for the hearing, tribunal or court, etc.
• Maintaining an investigation diary, with all pertinent details of meetings, interviews, etc.
• Compiling an event timeline.
• Taking statements and carrying out interviews with staff involved at the earliest possible time.
In addition, the investigating officer will decide which documentary evidence is required, to support the case, which depending on the nature of the case being investigated, might include, for example: policies/procedures, employment records, training records, timesheets, rotas, payroll records, bank statements, patient records, travel expenses claims, and transcriptions of relevant interviews, among others.
These types of investigation are of an open nature, as opposed to covert investigations, which must normally be authorised by the Trust’s Fraud Specialist, Director of Finance or Human Resources.
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