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Challenges of an MHPS Investigation
An MHPS investigation is an assessment of the conduct of doctors and dentists, carried out within a framework produced by the Department of Health.
Managing the performance of doctors can be one of the hardest and most complex jobs in healthcare. Views about the special status of doctors, the lack of familiarity managers have with clinical skills and performance standards, and the reluctance to challenge poor practise mean that managing doctors’ performance can be a real challenge.
Using our experience of handling some of the most sensitive investigations in the healthcare sector, we have helped a number of NHS trusts with investigations under the MHPS (Maintaining High Professional Standards) framework. We act as case investigator, collecting evidence for the case manager. Our independence, experience and discretion is particularly useful when handling difficult cases.
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Understanding how to evaluate performance
In our experience healthcare managers undertake an MHPS investigation only as a last resort because they know how long and complicated the process can be. Much can be done to avoid starting down the MHPS road. Prompt action should be taken by managers to identify and address performance problems with a doctor at an early stage. The key is to spot the issue, and to address it with the practitioner directly as soon as it happens. Ignoring the problem, and putting off this discussion almost always leads to the issues persisting.
Sometimes the performance issue will be limited to one individual but, more often, the performance of the doctor’s team will also be affected. To make the problem clear to the doctor, it is essential for managers to be specific about the issue, to explain where the performance falls short of the standards expected, and to describe the effects of their performance failures on the team and, most importantly, the patient. And it is also important to help the doctor understand what’s expected and to help them with the practical steps they need to take to correct their performance.
MHPS case support
In many cases, simply raising the issue promptly in a constructive way will be enough for those involved to see what needs to be done better. However, we know that some issues are more difficult to address and, in some cases, an MHPS investigation may be needed. That can be a big step to take, especially as the stakes for those involved are so high.
Conducting an MHPS case will put serious demands on managers to conduct fair and thorough investigations. At Verita, we have carried out the investigation in a number of cases where the MHPS process has been used and experience tells us that complex cases need to be handled carefully. We also know that MHPS cases are often assigned to inexperienced managers or to fellow doctors, who might never have had to investigate colleagues before.
Our investigative experience
As specialists in investigations we are always happy to support or advise those carrying out investigations of this sort, or take on the investigation ourselves. We would much rather do that, than be called in to carry out an investigation after an internal one has gone wrong! An MHPS investigation is never easy – but there is so much to be gained from carrying it out to a high standard and to a reasonable timetable.
If you would like to know more about how Verita can help with your MHPS investigation, please book a free consultation or contact Verita founder Ed Marsden at Verita on [email protected] or call 020 7494 5670. We are always happy to talk through the issues around MHPS.