It has been a difficult week for nursing, what with the publication of the Francis inquiry in to the failings of the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust and highlighting of concerns within the NHS in general.
This is nothing new – just look at Winterbourne and Margaret Haywood’s filming of the Royal Sussex Hospital.
Our tutor pointed out that at Mid Staffordshire there were no records of student nurses raising any concerns about the practice going on there
Before the publication of the enquiry our cohort had a session on ethics in mental health nursing. The conversation very quickly turned to “whistleblowing” and experiences of bad practice. Our tutor pointed out that at Mid Staffordshire there were no records of student nurses raising any concerns about the practice going on there.
A fair amount of the class admitted that as students they wouldn’t feel comfortable raising concerns either, the main worry being that they would fail their placement if they did so.
I haven’t had to report any concerns during my placements but I have had to when working as a support worker. There were ongoing issues surrounding medication and I felt as if my worries about it were taking over my entire life. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spent every waking moment wondering what was happening at work and I was struggling to sleep as a result.
I can honestly say that even as a student nurse, I would raise any concerns that I had
I raised my concerns several times but as I worked as part of a small team where there were only two members of staff on duty on a shift it meant that when I raised a concern, it was obvious it was me who did it. In addition I was not supported at all by my manager, meaning I had to take my concerns higher. It made my working life extremely difficult but I wouldn’t have been able to forgive myself if something terrible happened as a result and I hadn’t reported it.
That’s why I can honestly say that even as a student nurse, I would raise any concerns that I had. As mental health nurses we care for some very vulnerable person and raising concerns about bad practice that could endanger them is part of our duty of care.
Whistleblowing takes a lot of courage and confidence, it is by no means easy. I hope that one of the implications of the Francis enquiry is that we are more supported in raising our concerns and that they will be taken seriously. After my experience of it I learnt to keep notes, dates and times of things to back myself up. As students, remember you can report your concerns to your tutor and university as well.
Has anyone had experiences of whistleblowing during their placements? How were you able to deal with it?