Care Quality Commission inspection teams will actively seek out whistleblowers to help them make judgements about the quality a healthcare provider, Nursing Times has learnt.
The CQC’s latest move aims to give complainants and whistleblowers a central role in its new inspection regime.
It follows continued focus on the way the NHS treats whistleblowers who raise patient safety concerns, including through Nursing Times’ Speak out Safely campaign.
The campaign aims to ensure nurses and other health service staff can raise concerns about patient care without fear of reprisal.
The CQC’s plans were revealed in a letter from CQC chief executive David Behan to patient safety campaigner Will Powell.
Mr Powell’s son Robbie died in 1990, aged 10, after doctors repeatedly failed to diagnose or treat a suspected case of Addison’s Disease. An inquest later ruled the youngster died of natural causes but that negligence played a part.
In a letter to Mr Powell David Behan said: “As we build our new approach to inspection we will inspect the way the hospital listens to and responds to whistleblowers and complainants. This will include speaking to a number of individuals directly.
“In particular we intend to offer recent whistleblowers and a representative sample of complainants, the opportunity to meet with our teams as part of the inspection process.
The CQC’s chief Inspector of hospitals Mike Richards is investigating how inspection teams will identify whistleblowers to interview.
Mr Powell, who has campaigned for a legal duty of candour, said: “Historical whistleblowers are as important as current ones and the CQC should be looking at all whistleblowers, complainants and complaints departments. I think this is a step forward to get this kind of commitment.”