• Chief people officer Prerana Issar said there was an “appetite” for a common framework on handling concerns about NHS staff
  • This follows recommendations set by a national Advisory Group after the suicide of Imperial College Healthcare Trust nurse Amin Abdullah
  • Ms Issar asks all healthcare professional and regulatory bodies to review their guidance on disciplinary procedures

NHS England is working to develop a single framework for all professional regulators when dealing with a conduct complaint.

In a letter sent to all healthcare professional and regulatory bodies this week, chief people officer Prerana Issar called for “initial thoughts” and said there would be “extensive engagement with all stakeholders”.

She said the Maintaining High Professional Standards rules in place for doctors ”should inform the development and implementation of a common management framework for handling concerns relating to all NHS staff.

“Soundings taken from the HR director community suggests there is an appetite for the development of a common framework and some scoping work has begun.”

The recommendation for a common framework was set out by an advisory group, which was developed by the national regulators in response to the death of nurse Amin Abdullah in February 2016.

A senior nurse at Charing Cross Hospital, Mr Abdullah was suspended from Imperial College Healthcare Trust in September 2015 and dismissed in December.

An independent investigation following his death was highly critical of the behaviour and actions of individuals involved in the process against Mr Abdullah.

The advisory group made a series of other recommendations sent to chief executives and chairs in May 2019, one of which said healthcare regulators like the Nursing and Midwifery Council should consider reviewing the guidance and standards issued to their registrants relating to the management of disciplinary procedures.

“I am seeking your support in this recommendation and agreement to undertake an examination of any such guidance you may have provided to your registrants, or are considering developing, to ensure it addresses the issues highlighted above,” Ms Issar said in the letter.

She cited the General Medical Council’s guidance Leadership and management for all doctors, which she said was “an example of good practice”.

Ms Issar said all regulators and professional bodies should consider offering guidance on a “range of specific issues that are relevant to management responsibilities exercised by registrants”.

“In the interests of promoting consistency of approach, NHS England and NHS Improvement would be keen to be consulted on, and to provide support in, the development or revision of any new or existing guidance,” she added.

Mr Abdullah’s partner Terry Skitmore said: “When such guidance is introduced, it will help to prevent any such tragedies occurring again in the NHS.”

The advisory group’s guidance was initially set out in a letter sent by chair of NHS Improvement Baroness Dido Harding earlier this year. She called for trust HR teams and boards to review their disciplinary procedures and make adjustments to “bring your organisation in line with best practice”.

The guidance was set out in seven points, which included safeguarding the health and wellbeing of people involved in disciplinary procedures, which “should be paramount”.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council welcomed the news from NHS England and Improvement.

Matthew McClelland, director of the NMC’s fitness to practice work, said: “We’re committed to promoting better, safer care and encouraging openness and learning in nursing and midwifery practice.

“Since earlier this year, our Employer Link Service has been developing guidance to support employers in delivering effective local action and in conducting local investigations with a person-centred approach. We’ve worked with Imperial College Healthcare Trust, through our ELS, to understand the lessons learned from this tragic event and ensure they are reflected in that guidance.”