Unity urged to prevent another Alder Hey

September 28, 2001

Universities and their National Health Service partners in medical education and research must set up joint planning bodies and appraisal schemes if they are to avoid another body parts scandal such as at Alder Hey, according to a government review.

In March, Sir Brian Follett, former vice-chancellor of Warwick University, was asked by the government to review the arrangements for managing medical and dental consultants holding joint contracts with universities and the NHS.

This followed the Alder Hey Children's Hospital inquiry that criticised NHS-university relationships, appointments, job descriptions, appraisal and disciplinary procedures. These, it said, had created confusion in which children's body parts were retained without proper parental consent.

In the foreword to the Follett review, higher education minister Margaret Hodge, writes: "John Hutton (minister of state for health) and I will be looking for real and positive progress towards full implementation of the recommendations by the end of the year. Any other outcome is not an option."

Universities UK and the Council of Heads of Medical Schools support the recommendations, which cover jointly agreed procedures for staff appointments, appraisals, performance review and discipline. The review says universities and NHS bodies must develop joint annual appraisal and performance-review processes based on that for NHS consultants.

A clinical academic staff advisory group is being set up by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association to implement the recommendations.

Sir Martin Harris, chairman of the health committee of UUK, said:

"Everything recommended by Sir Brian already exists or is being developed in many institutions. We must ensure that best practice in joint management of staff is replicated across the country."

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