By Dr Minh Alexander NHS whistleblower and former consultant psychiatrist 7 June 2017
The establishment of the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch has been controversial, as has its location within NHS Improvement.
There has been little apparent engagement with patients, families and staff beyond a comfortable small circle, and little transparency about HSIB’s consultation process.
There is limited information issued on the HSIB website, although this has expanded a little since it was launched on 1 April 2017:
Full details of HSIB’s staffing and structure has had to be obtained by FOI.
This is the HSIB organogram disclosed by NHS Improvement:
So far, the unit appears to wholly or largely white. This in an NHS that has an over-representation of BME staff compared to the general population:
Potential blind spots are obviously a worry in an organisation that lacks diversity and is not informed by the perspective of some of the most disadvantaged staff and patients.
£2.6 million of HSIB’s £3.6 million budget is accounted for by staffing costs.
There are thirteen HSIB investigators so far (Keith Conradi the Chief Investigator, three ‘Principal National Investigators’ at band 9 and nine ‘National Investigators’ at band 8d), with a plan to recruit three more investigators at band 8d.
NHS Improvement confirms again as previously noted that HSIB’s Director of Corporate Affairs is on secondment from the Department of Health.
Depressingly, there is a full time comms manager, and there will be a full time comms officer. Line managed of course by the Department of Health Deputy Director who has been seconded to HSIB.
Curiously, NHS Improvement states that HSIB does not yet have any memoranda of understanding with other bodies, including its employer NHS Improvement.
This is the main HSIB disclosure:
It is also worth mentioning that HSIB reluctantly indicated in March, after lengthy correspondence, that it would consider a formal engagement process with whistleblowers. However, there is no sign yet of positive action.