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The big question: do we need a new inquiry on whistleblowing?

It has been announced that Sir Robert Francis QC is to lead a review of how whistleblowers are treated in the NHS.

The former chair of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry has been asked by the government to consider what further action is necessary to protect NHS workers who speak out in the public interest.

It follows calls for a public inquiry into whistleblowing in the NHS by a number of high-profile whistleblowers and their supporters, including Patients First, a campaign group headed by former Great Ormond Street paediatrician Kim Holt, and GP and Private Eye journalist Phil Hammond.

Do you welcome this review?

Readers' comments (11)

  • michael stone

    Yes - any review, of any aspect of the NHS, that is lead by Sir Robert is likely to be 'a good thing'.

    And I hope he makes it clear, that 'protecting staff who have concerns' (instead of this 'you have a duty to raise concerns' stress, as of late) is where [the solution to] this one, needs to START from.

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  • Not worth telling your university about how you have been treated as they do nothing. Tried it. Wouldn't bother again.
    No lessons learned there.

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  • seems to be a wide gap between uni and nhs. shouldn't they be working together so that they can provide what the nhs actually needs?

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  • On teh only but memorable occasion I came across ' an incident of concern' the whistleblowers career and personal life suffered very badly.

    The wrongdoer was invited to retire before proceedings of any kind could be instigated.

    Never forgotten it.

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  • an inquiry which will actually lead to action. yet another heap of paper is fairly useless.

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  • who reads the reports on all of these inquires?

    any one read the 400 odd pages of the most recent reforms yet?

    I can think of better entertainment off duty!

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  • Yes I think we do. I think society does because we all pay for it, it belongs to us and we are all on the receiving end of it at various points in our lives. But not for Tory ammunition purposes (Hunt et al). The fact that we have a system that needs whistleblowers needs changing, and that will only change when the people themselves change how they think and act. When the acquisition of power is usurped by collaboration and care is when I will notice a change.

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  • Yes – This could be a very important whistleblowing inquiry for nurses and other health professionals who have the responsibility to raise concerns.

    An inquiry may finally recommend real change to current NHS HR governance systems, both in HR department policy and practice and real transparency at Board level with Non-Executive members, CQC, NHS England and Monitor. It may address the prevalence of NHS employers, HR and legal teams who too often turn patient safety or other public concerns into employment issues, ignore the concerns raised and victimise the person who raised the concerns. It may also recommend independent whistleblowing reviews be conducted without the involvement from local HR and Trust managers, who often ‘lead’ internal whistleblowing investigations to meet Trust’s interests and not whistleblowers.

    The only drawback of Sir Robert Francis’s whistleblowing review is that it is currently only an ‘independent review’ and not a full ‘public inquiry’. This may greatly limit the power and scope of Sir Robert Francis’s team to obtain documents or call for the attendance of persons to give evidence. This is crucial, if the final recommendations hope to ensure the protection of NHS employees who raise concerns or whistleblow in the future.

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  • Most "whistle blowing" is associated with issues of patient safety and staffing.

    Crazy "management" decisions expose patients to risk.

    Those who raise concerns are, in turn at risk of being vilified by the "management" . Professionals who "challenge " management will have their career ruined.

    Check what happened to a Consultant Cardiologist who dared to "whistleblow"!

    All "whistleblowing " should be undertaken anonymously via the CQC.

    Do not place yourself at risk .

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  • While I agree with you Jenny, unfortunately the CQC are still pretty useless and in- effective.

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  • Doing the right thing will never be easy and often meets fierce opposition from vested interests & complacent managers. If even consultants fear to speak out, we're just disposable.

    CQC are indeed feeble. They were designed that way - poorly staffed with outside inspections by staff who know nothing about the areas, their history and little about the care required.

    It's a world away from the NHS run system that preceded it and even that depended on the professional commitment, courage and tenacity of the local senior nursing teams who inspected care providers.

    All effective whistleblowing depends on confidentiality, with speedy & effective responses to allegations. CQC isn't designed to handle this kind of thing either.

    I doubt if patient safety and quality of care were considered in the design of our current services for the frail and chronically sick, so it's hard to retro fit such alien notions onto a system designed to yield maximum profits to care privateers and minimum accountability for government ministers.

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