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Mid Staffs families back Nursing Times' Speak Out Safely campaign

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.

Readers' comments (2)

  • The NT SOS campaign is a step in the right direction.

    However, we really need to address the fact that we tell nurses they must behave as the patient's advocate, yet so few seem to have the ability to do so. Nurses are crap at this and it is not always to do with bullying. It is something that I have come across time and again, even in supportive environments. Nurses with concerns, or good ideas and no confidence to express themselves.

    This is a nurse training/education issue. We must furnish students with the skills to be able to make their concerns felt and ideas expressed articulately and with confidence. There also needs to be proper training and support for already qualified and experienced nurses. It is easy to dismiss a poorly verbalised or badly written concern. It is much much more difficult to bully a profession that is confident, united and not prepared to back down. That simply doesn't exist in any real sense within nursing. If it did, we would all be a lot better paid for a start. Certainly, our patients would not have suffered as they did in Mid-Staffs, and are currently doing elswhere. I guarantee it.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • michael stone

    I think it was during a 'feminist' discussion on Radio 4 a week or two ago, that one woman said 'women tend to be rubbish at negotiating' (this was re continuing pay differentials between the sexes).

    It might be, that women are less active in 'fighting their corner' ? Most nurses are female, so perhaps that is at the root of the things Mags commented on ? That isn't quite the 'we should be trained to construct an argument' issue, which mags raises, more an 'up with this, I will not put !' issue.

    So it might be a combination of training, cultural and 'biological' issues - a bit challenging to address, if it is !

    But the campaign, and protection for those who raise concerns, would help, I think - but I want to see the DETAIL of this protection, and I'm getting fed up of 'you have a professional duty to raise concerns' in the ABSENCE of strong protection for those who do.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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