Published: 20/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5810 Page 24
I have recently read the draft code of conduct for managers, which is open for consultation until 12 July.
The draft code is to be welcomed, containing much that is common sense and appropriate. However, colleagues may have missed one of the proposed requirements, which calls for managers to 'ensure that they live by high personal standards in their own use and acceptance of NHS resources including their remuneration'. I read this as suggesting that there are acceptable and unacceptable things on which NHS managers might spend their pay, beyond those that are legally prescribed for the population as a whole.
I can envisage circumstances in which an employer might identify particular areas of personal behaviour that, while legal, would be incompatible with employment by that particular organisation. I do not believe that a blanket statement such as that envisioned in the draft code would be appropriate or workable. Clearly, one person's high personal standards differ from another's.
Areas of sexual morality are an obvious example: could a manager be called to account for (legally) paying for sex or pornography? Some might suggest that it is incompatible with NHS employment to pay for alcohol, or to invest in tobacco companies. Some people have personal standards that require tithing, or other substantial charitable donations.
Are NHS staff to be subject to queries about their, or their families', use of private healthcare?
The idea of 'high personal standards' is highly subjective, and would lay NHS managers open to all sorts of unacceptable public scrutiny of their private lives. I would be extremely unhappy to see this requirement, in its present form, remain in the code, and I have said so in my own response to the Department of Health.
Conrad Henley-Calvert 39 New King Street Bath