1 Speak Out Policy

 

We are committed to providing high-quality services provided within the framework of the College philosophy, values and aims.

The College welcomes constructive criticism and feedback from staff, students and clients/patients, and has formal and informal mechanisms in place to address matters raised. We also recognise that on occasions, these policies and processes may not be appropriate, especially where staff, students or patients/clients suspect there may be malpractice or impropriety occurring at the College.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act protects workers from detrimental treatment or victimisation from their employer if, in the public interest, they ‘blow the whistle’ on malpractice or impropriety. Where a worker finds information which they believe shows malpractice or wrongdoing with an organisation, they can disclose it without fear of reprisal, and this can be done independently of line management. The College’s Speak Out Policy takes these principles and extends them to all students, staff and patients/clients who believe they have discovered malpractice or wrongdoing at the College.

1.1 Scope

The policy is intended to allow staff, students, patients and clients to raise concerns and disclose information about perceived malpractice. It is not a part of or connected in any way with the College’s complaints or grievance policies and procedures. Malpractice and wrongdoing include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial malpractice, impropriety or fraud;
  • Breaches of financial controls, false accounting/reporting, financial or other irregularities;
  • Academic malpractice;
  • Failure to comply with the College’s legal or regulatory obligations (e.g. anti-discriminatory legislation, trading standards, safeguarding, data protection, health and safety regulations or environmental protection laws);
  • Unethical business conduct (e.g. solicitation of anything of value from third parties that influence the rewarding of contracts);
  • Bullying, harassment, discrimination or victimisation of others,
  • Criminal activity including assault,
  • Staff involved in substance abuse;
  • A miscarriage of justice,
  • Actions intended to hide any of the above; and
  • Behaviour that might damage the College’s reputation.

1.2 Safeguards

The Speak Out policy is designed to offer protection to those who disclose concerns, provided the disclosure is made:

  • In good faith; and
  • In the reasonable belief of the individual making the disclosure that it tends to show malpractice.

1.3 Confidentiality

The identity of the individual making the disclosure will be kept confidential to those dealing with the case only, as long as it does not hinder or block any investigation or the College’s ability to meet legal obligations. However, the investigation process may disclose the source of the information and the individual making the disclosure may need to provide a statement as part of the evidence required.

1.4 Anonymous Allegations

Concerns expressed anonymously carry less weight, but may be used at the College’s discretion, depending on:

  • The severity of the issues raised;
  • The credibility of the concern;
  • Supporting evidence received; and
  • The likelihood of confirming the allegation from other credible sources.

1.5 Untrue allegations

No action will be taken against the discloser if an allegation is made in good faith but is not confirmed by subsequent investigation.

The making of malicious or vexatious allegations is likely to result in disciplinary and/or legal action.

 

2 Procedures

 

2.1 Disclosure to senior management

In the first instance, the disclosure should be made to the line manager, for staff, or to the College manager, Principal or Course Director. They will decide if it is appropriate to resolve the matter in College.

If this is not possible as it is the line manager, senior manager or Course Director who is the subject of the disclosure, or you are dissatisfied with the outcome , you should refer the matter to the member of the College's Board of Directors/Trustees who has agreed to review the disclosure. This is David Jay, who can be contacted at . Alternately, the disclosure can be put in writing, send to David Jay, Northern College of Acupuncture, 61 Micklegate, York YO1 6LJ marked "Personal and confidential: Please forward". The letter will be forwarded unopened to David.

David will respond to you in a timely manner and will decide the course of action to be taken.

2.2 Next Steps

The person receiving the initial disclosure will consider the information made available and should decide whether there is a prima facie case to answer, whether an investigation should take place, and in what form. Investigations may involve:

  • The application of a standard College management procedure;
  • An investigation by external auditors;
  • An investigation by external HR professionals;
  • Referral to an external body such as a funding body, Quality Assurance Agency, accrediting body such as the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, or the police, before or after an internal investigation has taken place.

Investigations will not be carried out by any person who will have to make a decision on the matter, or who may be involved in the allegation.

2.3 Feedback

An outline of any initial action taken and any further action to be taken will be provided to the discloser.

The person(s) against whom the disclosure was made will be informed of it together with any supporting evidence, and will be allowed to respond before any investigation or further action is concluded unless doing so may compromise the outcome of an investigation.

2.4 Reporting of outcomes

A brief report of all disclosures, not identifying individuals, and any subsequent actions taken will be made to the Board of Directors/Trustees in order to monitor the effectiveness of this policy and to ensure any organisational learning is achieved.

Policy dated May 2017 approved by Board of Directors Next review May 2018