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Keeping people safe
We have a professional duty to protect people from harm and to care for both the professionals who work for us, who we work with and also the patients, families and carers who may be proxy to our investigations, evaluation and advisory work.
We are not, however, a provider of care and so the way that we keep people safe from harm is in the following ways:
We also have a duty to keep our own staff safe in the course of their work and we do this in a number of ways:
Safeguarding and raising concerns
We take the issue of disclosure seriously in line with our professional duty to keep people safe from harm. It is our role only to recognise and refer suspected abuse and not to investigate it unless this is the specific scope of our work.
There are a few instances where we may escalate a disclosure or make a disclosure ourselves and these include:
When we interview participants, we are always clear about disclosure principles. We are also clear that we may make information to Her Majesty’s Coroner and also to the Crown Prosecution Service or a professional body (GMC, NMC, HPC etc) upon formal request, where this is necessary.
Using external advisors and experts by experience
The advantages and challenges of collaborating with local experts of all types can, in practice, be very similar. On the positive (and completely necessary for a successful evaluation) side, each bring a detailed knowledge of the realities of service delivery. This leads to better evaluation questions, better approaches to engagement and data analysis, and more realistic findings. Crucially, both can bring a necessary perspective to what data (both quantitative and qualitative) actually mean – not simply what interviewees or numbers say, but their deeper context, and their implications for the future.
On the (sometimes) more problematic side, each group of experts can sometimes over-value their own personal experience, assuming they speak for a much wider group of people than they really do. Professionals’ and service users’ experiences differ within each group, and services are not necessarily the same from place to place. Our role is therefore sometimes to place wider evidence and experience alongside experts’ personal experiences in identifying the best approach to a project.
A further challenge can be to the integrity of evaluation findings. Sometimes (and often for very understandable reasons) local experts of all types are keen to see particular conclusions being drawn in an evaluation, or particular recommendations being emphasised. Our role in this circumstance has to be to ensure that both findings and recommendations are genuinely justified by the evidence, and to push back if asked to support an unjustifiable conclusion.
We therefore wholly welcome the inclusion of experts of all types in the design of our projects – as essential advisors, working with us to improve the quality of our work and our findings. We have established contractual structures for taking on associate consultants with particular expertise within which successful candidates would be remunerated. For the use of experts by experience, we have no fixed organisational policy, as clients differ in how they wish these matters to be approached; some offer remuneration only for activities which could be considered “work”, but others remunerate time and expenses for participation in research or evaluation activities; all approaches are agreed with clients at the outset of any project.