8 core principles for community pharmacy whistleblowing policies and procedures

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Why have we produced this?

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Public Concern at Work (PCaW) are committed to working with all stakeholders to improve the existing culture for raising concerns and working towards creating a “safe” and constructive whistleblowing environment for employees and temporary staff.

What is this document?

This document contains the recommendations for the principles which the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Public Concern at Work (PCaW) believe all whistleblowing policies or procedures for pharmacy should comply with.

What this document does not cover

This document is not a comprehensive legal resource for whistleblowing or the legal protection provided by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA).

Whistleblowing in the NHS is well established and guided by the resource ‘Speak up for a healthy NHS’ developed by PCaW and the Social Partnership Forum.

Why does whistleblowing matter?

For an organisation, whistleblowing is an important aspect of risk management and governance and in the case of the NHS terms of service for pharmacists, pharmacy businesses and pharmacy partnerships in England and Wales, it will be a component of the Clinical Governance arrangements on the 1 October 2011 (Wales 31 December 2011) for new contractors and 31 March 2012 for existing contractors.

Whistleblowing can protect shareholders as well as patients and the public, communities, colleagues and taxpayers.

8 core principles for pharmacy whistleblowing policies and procedures

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Public Concern at Work recommend that all pharmacy whistleblowing policies and procedures:

  1. Are readily accessible at the place of work and available to all workers, including temporary staff, contractors and locums.
  2. Comply with the good practice recommendations made within the British Standards Institute’s (BSI) Code of Practice on Whistleblowing arrangements.
  3. Contain a commitment to zero tolerance of victimisation for all persons, including workers, temporary staff, contractors and locums who have raised whistleblowing concerns.
  4. Remind pharmacists or technicians of their obligation in GPhC standard 7.11 relating to raising concerns
  5. Include options for the person raising the concern to do so on a confidential basis when requested.
  6. Include an escalation process and options to raise concerns outside of line management including detail of routes of contact of the superintendent or chief pharmacist and where appropriate, how and when concerns can be made externally.
  7. Are supported by a culture that encourages and reinforces the use of the policies and procedures as a valued governance mechanism.
  8. Provide an explanation which distinguishes between a whistleblowing concern and a grievance

About PCaW

Public Concern at Work (PCaW) is the independent whistleblowing charity which provides confidential advice to workers who witness wrongdoing or malpractice in the workplace and are unsure what to do. PCaW also works with organisations to help them establish best practice their whistleblowing arrangements.

Further information and comprehensive resources are available on the PCaW website.

Where to go for further information

  1. Public Concern at Work or 0800 668 1883
  2. British Standards Institute. Whistleblowing Arrangements Code of Practice; 2008 (PAS 1998:2008)
  3. Social Partnership Forum. Speak up for a healthy NHS, How to implement and review whistleblowing arrangements in your organisation
  4. GPhC guidance on raising concerns
  5. Royal Pharmaceutical Society (July 2011) Reducing workplace pressure through professional empowerment
  6. Royal Pharmaceutical Society (September 2011) Raising concerns, whistleblowing and speaking-up safely in pharmacy
  7. National Health Service (Pharmaceutical Services) Amendment Regulations 2011 SI 2011 No. 2136
  8. Wales Audit Office (Online March 2012)