Families who fought to expose the scandal of poor care at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust have given their backing to Nursing Times’ Speak out Safely campaign.
The campaign aims to boost protection for nurses and other NHS staff who raise concerns about patient care.
Julie Bailey, who founded Cure the NHS after her mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital, told Nursing Times it was “crucial” for patients’ wellbeing that nurses are given the opportunity to speak up.
“They are our eyes and ears and they should be encouraged and given protection to raise concerns,” she added.
Cure the NHS was formed in 2007 by Ms Bailey and other grieving relatives who had lost loved ones at the to highlight poor care at the trust. Following a damning Healthcare Commission investigation in 2008-09 the group successfully campaigned for a public inquiry to examine wider system failings.
Ms Bailey added: “If nurses who tried to speak up at Mid Staffs had been listened to it could have made a world of difference, and my mum might have been alive today. Our families might not have suffered the way they did.
“We saw it for ourselves on the wards the nurses who wanted to care for the patients were the ones that ended up being bullied. That’s why so many were frightened to speak up.
“The more caring the nurse is the more they are put on.”
The inquiry, led by Robert Francis QC, published its findings last month and criticised a culture within the NHS which did not put patient care first.
Nursing Times’ Speak out Safely campaign is calling on the government to implement a statutory “duty of candour”, as recommended by Robert Francis, requiring NHS staff and organisations to be open about mistakes.
This would also make it a criminal offence for any trust or manager to prevent staff raising concerns after a serious injury to a patient or death.
As part of the campaign, Nursing Times is also asking all NHS employers to make an explicit public commitment to their staff that they will not face disciplinary action for raising genuine patient safety concerns.
The third aim of the campaign is to obtain a commitment from the government to carry out a full review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act to ensure it gives adequate protection for NHS staff.