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Board action following employment tribunal

Published: 5 February 2014

The non-executive directors of South Devon Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have today taken the decision to launch a formal process to investigate concerns raised regarding its Chief Executive. This will be undertaken in line with the Trust’s constitution and guidance issued by NHS regulator, Monitor. It follows the release of a critical judgement by the Exeter Employment Tribunal which also resulted in the Trust’s Chairman stepping down last week. The process will be conducted fairly, with integrity and as quickly as possible.

Acting Chairman, Topsy Murray, said: “The recent employment tribunal was difficult for all those involved, and left a number of complex issues to be resolved. We have therefore today embarked on a formal process to present our concerns to the Chief Executive. A committee of non-executive directors will meet with the Chief Executive and ensure she has proper opportunity to respond to those concerns.”

She continued: “One of my first roles as Acting Chairman of the Board is to make sure that as an organisation we learn from this whole experience. There are two things that, as a governing body, we are agreed need urgent attention.

“Firstly we must ensure that we have transparency in situations such as these in future. We cannot use ‘confidentiality’ as a reason for not sharing with the board reports that have been commissioned as a result of staff raising concerns. We have already had discussions about this, following the Kennedy Report into breast surgery at Solihull Hospital. Transparency is important not just for concerns about clinical practice, but for any serious concerns raised by staff and this will now be the subject of an audit review.

“Second, is the issue of whistleblowing. Our staff must feel able to speak up if they think something may be wrong. We are also therefore commissioning a review of our whistleblowing policy and processes to ensure that our staff are encouraged, enabled and supported to raise any concerns.”