'People are starting to value whistleblowers'
The new breakfast programme from ITV, Good Morning Britain, led last Wednesday with a survey on nurse staffing levels, which it conducted in partnership with Nursing Times. The fact that the issue had such prominence demonstrates just how important it is to the public.
At Nursing Times, we’re grateful to the programme for showing that despite the fingers pointed at them over recent scandals, nurses are still doing a great job - or trying to - and often in challenging circumstances. Nadine Weeks, a patient’s relative who appeared on the show with me, empathised with nurses who had treated her mother, despite the fact that care was sometimes non-existent.
This week, we’re publishing the results of the Good Morning Britain and OnePoll survey on the public’s perception of nurses (page 3) - and they echo the feelings of Ms Weeks. Although 54% of survey respondents had carried out nursing duties while visiting a relative or friend in hospital because the nurses weren’t able to, they were overwhelmingly supportive of nurses. In fact, 72% supported nurses being paid more than bankers.
But these surveys raise some serious issues about staffing levels, and those are still a major reason behind many staff concerns.
Last week I attended the Speaking Out Summit in London where GP, comedian and journalist - and supporter of whistleblowers - Phil Hammond said whistleblowing is still considered to be a perjorative term, and most people are dismissive of whistleblowers. He said healthcare culture needs to recognise those who raise concerns as role models who have stopped patient harm in its tracks.
Former NHS trust chief executive and whistleblower Gary Walker echoed this - he said whistleblowers should be treated as an asset that could save lives and money. Mr Walker pointed to Helene Donnelly’s recent receipt of an OBE as evidence that whistleblowers are now appreciated. I’d agree that the tide is turning and people are now celebrating whistleblowers and recognising their value.
Further proof came last week, as Nursing Times’ Speak Out Safely campaign was named Editorial Campaign of the Year at the British Media Awards. The judges described it as “an effective campaign that both addressed a core issue for its audience and had wider implications outside the industry it covers”, proving just how vital it is in every workplace to support those who raise concerns. But we’re focused first and foremost on healthcare - so NHS organisations, private providers, universities and any other organisations involved in healthcare provision that aren’t yet signed up to Speak Out Safely - do it now. Go to nursingtimes.net/sos to find out how.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed