Covid-19 Inquiry STOP Notice
The Trust is required to communicate to all staff their legal duty in relation to record-keeping to support the Trust’s preparation for the above inquiry.
The Prime Minister has announced that the Government will launch an independent Public Inquiry into the Government and public sector response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Public Inquiries take place when there is public concern about an event. They can ask for a broad range of documents and records and on occasion witness testimony from senior managerial and clinical staff. The organisation wants to provide our fullest support and transparency to any requests for information. So, we are therefore asking all colleagues to save full records, whether they are working directly on COVID-19, recovery, or as part of our business-as-usual activities.
Our Internal SWYT Inquiry support team
The Trust Lead for the Inquiry is Julie Williams, Assistant Director, Corporate Governance.
We will be supporting staff and teams across our organisation as part of the management of this Public Inquiry process including information, advice and guidance in terms of the storage and preservation of data, records and documents, and what is needed to be considered and actioned if SWYT and our services are called upon to give evidence and records.
What does this mean for me?
The Inquiry will need to have records from the start of COVID to the present date, so to demonstrate how we responded to the pandemic, how we maintained as normal activities as we could and what compensatory actions we undertook. We have initially stated information from 01 January 2020 will be collated and catalogued, although this date may change. If in doubt, please err on the side of caution and preserve anything that may relate to the potential public Inquiry. All teams should suspend any routine document destruction that is in place until they receive a further update, or have confirmed with our Internal Inquiry Team that the information is no longer required.
Why is document preservation important?
We will work with any public inquiry openly and transparently. We want to learn lessons where we can, and we want to show the amazing work that has been done by all our staff. In due course, once the terms of reference for the Inquiry have been confirmed, NHS England and NHS Improvement may ask us to disclose all or some of our relevant documents that fall within the terms as set out by the Inquiry. Any significant loss of documentation will cause delay, impede the supportive preparation of any witnesses, increase costs and could harm the reputation of the NHS.
What if I have already deleted some records?
If you have any worries or questions, just email our Internal Inquiry lead at firstname.lastname@example.org Don’t worry we are here to support you and we will do everything we can to support staff through the enquiry both before and while it is happening.
We completely understand that the organisation was working in new ways, in new teams and at pace. It is inevitable that some records will be missed, improperly logged, or simply not created in the first place. That is expected and we can help advise on what to do. It remains important that we continue to save relevant records to the best of our ability.
What sort of documents and records should I retain?
A ‘document’ is anything that records information. This includes records of decisions, the process by which decisions were reached, and the evidence and data used to support them.
It doesn’t matter what format the information is held on, or the type of device or system. It could be saved on computers, or on portable devices such as memory sticks or mobile phones.
The different types of records are very broad, but can include:
- Reports, PowerPoint presentations, records, briefings, minutes, notes and correspondence by email or otherwise, Teams ‘chats’, action logs
- Models and Sitreps and related data histories
- Material relevant to key policy decisions or submissions
- Materials relevant to policy or legislative development
- Training materials
- Materials relating to contracts, procurements, other commercial arrangements, data management, recruitments, secondments and appointments (paid or not) or requests and arrangements for support from other public sector agencies
- Any other documents relating to the organisations’ response or communications with patients, the system, industry or other stakeholders
- Messages on personal or work phones including social media applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter
- Personal Diaries/calendars
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DUPLICATE RECORDS THAT ARE HELD ON TRUST DATA SYSTEMS EG SYSTMONE, ESR AND EROSTER – If in doubt if a system is covered please get in touch.
What if I’ve used my personal phone or email account?
It is not our policy to use WhatsApp or other instant messaging services for recording records or critical information. However, we do understand that people may have used instant messaging services in order to facilitate flexible working at pace – both on a work and/or personal device(s).
If that was the case, please ensure that all work records, information and data is migrated from your personal assets to a secure folder on a Trust device. If you need support to do this please contact email@example.com
Why do we have to do all this?
We need to describe how and why key decisions were taken. Access to relevant documents will be essential to enable those who are required to give evidence to articulate what happened during a period when many issues were being addressed at a great pace.
In due course, it will be necessary to search for and identify all relevant records, so it is essential that all records are appropriately saved and will be available for access including after any staff holding these have left the organisation.
If there are people due to leave from your team, please make sure you know how to keep in touch with them and ensure all their records are saved and filed before they leave (including handwritten notes).
When will the inquiry start?
The inquiry is expected to start in 2022, but there will be preparatory work to do before then and as guidance and information come in we will keep you updated. We will be as transparent and open as we can so please do all you can to keep records safe. We will provide as much support as people need during the inquiry and will communicate with individuals and teams as required.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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