Patients, students and other stakeholders rely on us. And we rely on each other. This means that we are honest, trustworthy, committed and involved in our work, thereby creating an open and pleasant work environment where we express ourselves, discuss matters with each other, make commitments, and call each other to account in this respect. This way of working is described in our Integrity code of conduct. Our UMC Utrecht Research Code describes the standards for good research practices and refers, where applicable, to internal policy and procedures. It also specifies how and to whom any (suspected) violation of scientific integrity can be reported.
For notifications pertaining to scientific integrity, the Ombudsman and Confidential Matters office works with confidential counselors on scientific integrity at Utrecht University. In 2021, these confidential counselors handled four notifications from UMC Utrecht.
Ombudsman and Confidential Matters
In 2021, the Ombudsman and Confidential Matters office received 217 notifications (an average 2% of all UMC Utrecht staff members). This is 80 less than in 2020, which is partly due to a new way of registering. Most of the notifications in 2021 pertained to questions and issues regarding co-working problems (42), followed by notifications of undesirable behavior (41) and notifications related to conflicts (37). Compared to 2020, the sharpest increase was in the number of notifications relating to co-working problems (from 35 to 42), followed by notifications related to reorganization issues (from 6 to 10). The increase in notifications that had to do with co-working is partly due to remote working. Hybrid working is effectively facilitated by the organization on several fronts, but sometimes co-working problems arise due for instance to slower and less direct communication. In a number of cases, high work pressure also led to co-working problems. The biggest drop compared to 2021 was in notifications pertaining to legal status. In 2020, 62 notifications were made with regard to legal status. In 2021, there were only 28. There is no clear explanation for this.
In 2019, a decentralized confidential counselor pilot was launched, with the purpose to lower the threshold of broaching the topic of (possibly) undesirable behavior even further, and to be even more in touch with what is happening at UMC Utrecht in this respect. The pilot got a positive assessment at the end of 2021. As a result, the Executive Council decided that recourse to decentralized confidential counselors would be structurally embedded in the organization. With the use of confidential counselors, topics like etiquette and integrity become easier to discuss in the organization, which in turn increases awareness of these matters. The use of an additional confidential counselor for PhDs and AIOS will also continue. This does not only address a specific need, but also contributes to co-working ties. In this way, a careful system is created with each other, in which signals are discussed and can be taken up.
No whistleblower notifications were received in 2021.