The masterclasses focused on how investigating officers can conduct effective professional investigations as quickly as possible to the highest standards.
Delivered to clinical matrons employed by City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, the masterclasses focused on the legal requirements on investigating officers in relation to their role, responsibilities and duties, relevant case law and employment tribunal rulings and considerations in relation to the requirements and robustness of investigations. It revisited the role and remit of the investigating officer: what they can and cannot recommend, and what the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) states about the role.
Melanie Johnson, Director of Nursing and Quality for both trusts (pictured), said: "This has been a very valuable opportunity for senior nurses to enhance their investigatory skills and understand the process from a different perspective. We have very much enjoyed this opportunity to work with our RCN colleagues to enable us to better support staff in difficult situations."
“Investigations can be an anxious and onerous time for all parties,” said RCN Northern region Operational Manager Peta Clark. “For the investigating officer investigations take a lot of time and effort, usually done in addition to their day job. For the member of staff under investigation it can be a very anxious, uncertain time and sometimes for the duration of the investigation they can be stopped from undertaking certain roles, such as medication administration. This can add to already high levels of stress and anxiety. Any investigation also has the potential to unsettle the rest of the team and impact on patient care.”
The group spent time critiquing investigation reports from the perspective of a union official, using another perspective to challenge the validity of any evidence and assumptions made within the reports as well as reviewing the recommendations made by the investigating officers. The workshop was very well received and found to be an excellent, interactive refresher which provided hints and tips for what to include and omit when writing a report. As a group, the matrons who attended the first session requested that the masterclass be rolled out further to ward managers.
Peta Clark continued: “This has been a really good opportunity to look at where the RCN can work in partnership with trusts to improve the experience of everyone going through the investigation process. Rather than being solely a punitive process, investigations should take a whole-systems approach to incidents, so that they are seen as learning opportunities where all concerned can take the learning from them and turn them into a positive experience for all.”