Staff members at Ecoflix Foundation are committed to providing an outstanding public service and always strive to portray the service as exemplary in all its dealings with service users, relatives, professionals and other external organisations.
Service users and other involved individuals rightly expect that all staff at the service will, at all times, conduct themselves with integrity, impartiality and honesty.
Staff should always maintain the highest standards of propriety and professionalism, and must avoid leaving themselves exposed to opportunity or suspicion of improper acts or compromised situations of a financial nature, or receipt of extravagant hospitality.
Above all, staff should never put themselves in a position of conflict between their official duties and private interest.
Staff should be aware that gifts offered by service users, relatives, contractors, suppliers, service providers and others, might place an employee in a position of compromise. Even when offered, and accepted in innocence; others may misconstrue the intention behind such gifts.
Some members of staff, necessarily in the course of their duties, spend time with other organisations, where it is normal business practice or social convention to offer gifts, hospitality or awards. Offers of this kind can place staff in a difficult position: to refuse may cause misunderstanding or offence; however to accept may give rise to questions of impropriety or conflict of interest.
In addition to the receipt of gifts or hospitality, staff members must never leave themselves in a position that they could have the opportunity of, or be suspected of, offering bribes or inducements to other individuals or organisations, for the request and / or receipt of special services, treatment or favours from any individuals.
All staff should note that under no circumstances should they borrow money or items from or lend them to any service user or relative.
Ecoflix Foundation will follow the principles and guidance of the Bribery Act 2011 when considering its conduct in relation to the above situations (see below for the main features of the Bribery Act 2011).
The purpose of this policy is to guide staff members on the appropriate way to conduct themselves, and to assist senior management to implement this policy, so that neither staff members nor the Group itself are left exposed to, or suspected of, acts of impropriety.
This policy is in line with the Ecoflix Foundation policy (primary care services)
This new Act, which came into force on 1st July 2011, has been created to reform the law of bribery to provide for a new consolidated scheme of bribery offences.
The Group and its staff must comply with the law in relation to this Act when offering or accepting a gift or hospitality from service users, contractors, suppliers, service providers and others.
There are a number of offences that have been created under the new Act, but for General Practices there are three that have particular relevance:
Offering, promising or giving a bribe to another person – Section 1;
Requesting or agreeing to receive or accepting a bribe – Section 2;
Failure of a commercial organisation to prevent bribery – Section 7 (Corporate Offence).
The last of the above three points presents an additional consideration – that of liability of the Group as an organisation.
Unless the Group has adequate procedures in place to deter acts of bribery, its senior management could also be liable to be prosecuted, as well as the individual(s) concerned.
Under the Act, a person found guilty can receive a maximum sentence of 10 years and / or an unlimited fine.
The Group should not, under normal circumstances, be as greatly exposed to the risk of bribery as other, more commercial organisations which operate multi-nationally.
The following six principles should be used in determining what needs to be in place (if not already) within the Group to mitigate the risk of bribery:
Proportionality – action taken should be relative – The Group should not have to take extensive action, considering their small size;
Top-level commitment – senior management should be active in making sure all staff and key business associates working for or with the Group understand that the Group does not tolerate bribery in any form;
Risk assessment – research the risks the Group might face and make a list;
Due diligence – make sure the correct checks are done on staff employed at the Group. Ensure all business associates are correctly vetted and financially checked before the commencement of business;
Communication – ensure all staff and business associates are aware of the Group’s bribery policy, and the position of senior management and the Group as an organisation in relation to this. Consider staff training / posters / leaflets in this regard;
Monitoring and review – regularly address the Groups anti-bribery policy and actions to ensure they are still comprehensive and fit-for-purpose; taking into account any changes in law.
Definition of a gift: A ‘gift’ is any item of cash or goods which is provided for personal benefit at less than its commercial value.
NHS England’s recently published guidance on managing conflicts of interest, which came into effect on 1 June 2017, advises that gifts valued over £50 should be treated with caution, and should only be accepted on behalf of an organisation, and not by individual NHS staff. They should also be declared. (MDU 20.8.2019)
Staff should not accept any gift, reward or hospitality from any organisation or individual with whom they have contact in the course of their work as an inducement for either doing something or not doing something in their official capacity (it is particularly important to take care about any gift received from a person or organisation that has, or is hoping to have a contract with the Group);
Staff members may accept modest gifts, either themselves or on behalf of the Group, (e.g. chocolates or flowers) without reference to the Managers, as refusal could cause offence.
However, it may be prudent to decline more substantial or expensive offerings.
The recipient of unsolicited gifts of a substantial nature from service users or contractors should consult their Line Manager who, in turn, discuss the matter with a Senior Managers who will be the final arbiter on the advisability of accepting or refusing such gifts);
Larger gifts should remain the property of the Group.
Exceptionally, if the Manager considers that it is not possible to use a gift to support the Groups work, retention of the gift by the individual may be authorised.
In permitting the retention of the gift, the Group may recommend the recipient make a cash bequest to a local charity, with entry of this bequest in the central register.
Alternatively, if the individual does not wish to retain the gift, a solicitor appointed by the Group may arrange for presentation of the gift to a local charity;
Staff must record any gifts accepted in the central register (see pages 5 and 6) maintained by the Manager. Any queries about the contents of the register should be directed to the Manager.
No member of the Group should involve themselves in the writing of a service user’s Will where they are also a beneficiary of that Will.
Where a service user makes a bequest to a member of the Group, it must be declared to the Manager for declaration in the Register.
Definition of hospitality: ‘Hospitality’ is food, drink, entertainment or other services provided for personal benefit at less than their commercial value.
There is an acceptance that a member of staff may sometimes receive conventional hospitality. This may also include a member of staff attending, in an official capacity, a social event organised by another body for promotional or influential purpose.
In general, it may be necessary to decline offers of hospitality exceeding the norm of conventional hospitality. The following forms of hospitality, in particular, should be avoided:
Inducements that could lead to a contractual position between the Group and a supplier, contractor or consultant;
Substantial offers of social functions, travel or accommodation;
Repeated acceptance of meals, tickets and invitations to sporting, cultural or social events, particularly from the same source;
Particular care should be taken when offered any form of hospitality or gift from a person or organisation that has, or is hoping to have, a contractual relationship with the Group.
If staff have any doubt about whether to accept hospitality offered they should refer the matter to their Line Manager who should, in turn, discuss the matter with a Senior Management who will be the final arbiter on the advisability of accepting or refusing such hospitality).
If, as an exception, the Manager agrees that there are circumstances that justify exceeding the normal level of hospitality, there will be a record made in the central register.
Offering Gifts or Hospitality
Occasionally, there are circumstances where the Group may feel it appropriate to offer a gift or hospitality to an individual or external organisation.
Where this occurs, the Manager must authorise this, and it should be made clear that there is no element of inducement involved, and that a reciprocal gift should not be offered by the individual or organisation, nor accepted by the Group.
Any offer or acceptance of a gift or hospitality over-and-above what would be considered as “modest” should be recorded on the Group’s Gifts and Hospitality Register (see below).
Gifts and Hospitality Register
In the interests of openness and integrity, the Manager will maintain a central register (example on the following page) of gifts and hospitality, offered or received, as a record of instances regarded as exceptional.
The purpose of the register is to protect individual members of staff, and the Group as an organisation, of accusations of impropriety.
The guiding principles are:
The conduct of a staff member should not create suspicion of any conflict of interest between official duty and private interest;
The action of staff members should not give the impression to members of the public or any organisation with whom they deal, or to their colleagues, that they actually have, or may have been influenced, with a benefit received in order to show favour or disfavour to any person or organisation. (Contrastingly, this should also apply should a benefit be offered by a member of staff at the Group to any other individual).
The requirement to register gifts was introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2001. The current regulations apply to both performers and contractors and require individual GPs and contractors to keep a register of gifts from patients or their relatives which have a value of £100 or more unless the gift is unconnected with the provision of services. Primary care trusts can request sight of such registers; the register itself must include certain information such as the name of the donor, nature of the gift and its estimated value (BMA 23.1.19)
It is a disciplinary offence for a member of staff to accept any benefit as an inducement or reward that leads them in an official capacity to:
Take any action, or not to take action; or
Show favour or disfavour to anyone.
Any disciplinary action will be in accordance with the Group’s normal disciplinary procedure.