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David Drew: 'Nurses expect to suffer for speaking out'


The culture in some NHS Trusts actively discourages nurses and doctors from exercising their professional responsibilities to their patients.

Staff have an expectation that either nothing will be done or they will suffer personal adverse consequences for speaking out. I support the NT SOS which I hope will result in an NHS safer for patients and fairer to nursing staff.

The NT SOS is an immensely practical response to the Francis report. It has arrived at a critical moment in NHS history. A culture has developed in which managerial power often dominates front line clinical staff and order is maintained by coercion and frank bullying. This must be redressed urgently. If not patients will continue to be at risk and staff disenchanted and demoralised. I wish NT well with its campaign.

The roles of doctors and nurses are mutually dependent. I supported nursing staff through extreme managerial bullying and  a botched redundancy programme in 2008/9. In 2010 despite my Trust describing me as an excellent clinician, a true leader and an effective manager I was dismissed for Gross Misconduct. It is not safe to tell NHS management when they get things seriously wrong.

I believe the NT SOS will inform and empower nurses to stand up and speak when managers lose sight of their responsibilities to patients.

As an NHS consultant I have seen the effects of managerial bullying on nursing staff. I reported this with evidence and witnesses to the highest level in my Trust in 2009. No action was taken against the managers. I was dismissed for Gross Misconduct.

This demonstrates the present skewed power balance between management and clinical staff. I believe this needs urgent redress and I hope that the NT SOS coming in the wake of the Francis report will help achieve this.

David Drew, NHS Whistleblower.

Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.



Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.


Readers' comments (30)

  • Anonymous | 17-Mar-2013 11:04 am

    In 1982, Margaret Thatcher and Geoffrey Howe unveiled plans to dismantle the Welfare State and bring an end to the NHS. These were outlined in a confidential cabinet memorandum by the Central Policy Review Staff in September 1982. The plans were discussed at a special half-day extended cabinet discussion on 9 September that year. This is fact.

    Successive Tory, Labour and ConDem governments have contributed to and created the existing problems with the NHS. I say this as someone of no political persuasion.

    However, it is part of the Conservative political ideology to rid this country of the NHS. Prior to his appointment as Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt stated publicly that he did not believe in the NHS. You are free to agree with that if you wish. However, many here do not. That does not make us left-wing, anti-conservative propagandists. I would speak out against anyone putting forward such ideology and couldn't care less about their political hue. So a little more respect please for the views of others.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 17-Mar-2013 10:43 am

    No only comment under this label.

    Regardless of which party was in power they have ALL contributed to make a complete mess of what was OUR NHS and to the point where it has cost many lives.

    Patients and nurses have been at the receiving end. To say no one is to blame is to deny the problem because unless we look at cause and effect we will never find the solution and yet the Francis report has come up with numerous recommendations which the current government appear to want to ignore, the biggest one being we need more staff not less and stop the culture of bullying management.

    There are good and bad in all walks of life regardless of whatever job they do in life, there are those who will speak up and those who won't. The few good men and women who do speak up are have their lives made a misery. By whom? Don't tell me there's no one to blame for that happening or the loss of life at Mid Staff or other hospitals across the country where these things are still happening because unless we get to the cause, the people who are doing it and unless we deal with these people, this will continue.

    It's no good burying our heads in the sand and hoping this problem will just go away all by itself and saying 'no one's to blame' what utter nonsense. Then we would be supporting all that's wrong rather than trying to find a solution.

    If a nurse reports bad practice that is detrimental to a patients well being that is not because they want to 'cause trouble' that is because they want to see things change for the better.

    There has never been a better time to whistle blow if you see bad practice because now we allegedly have the support of all concerned. The term 'whistle blower' has been turned into the word 'trouble maker' and this should never have been the case where good nurses and doctors have been trying to do what is right.

    If you get mugged in the street you wouldn't say no one is to blame would you?

    Thousand of people have died as a result of lies and dishonesty and keeping the public in the dark in a cover up.

    Lies hurt, honesty heals. Let's be honest and if nicholson goes to court for corporate manslaughter let's hope he sings like a canary and brings down the house of cards and all those minsters of health who brought about this disaster go down with him too so the message is loud and clear this must never happen again.

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  • tinkerbell

    there are 3 offences that are perfectly suited to cover the allegations relating to the ignoring of mortality figures, gagging and threats and intimidation against Whistle-Blowers:
    •Corporate Manslaughter
    •Misconduct in Public Office
    •Bribery and Corruption

    (from NHS complaint website).

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  • Unfortunately I am commenting anonymously as I have an Employment Tribunal case pending. I was subjected to the most prolonged and barbaric treatment following raising concerns about a child protection case. I was disciplined for Gross Misconduct and bringing the organisation into disrepute after 12 weeks. The management had carried out a witch-hunt. The disciplinary outcome was completely overturned, at appeal (following numerous requests to appeal being refused)The Appeal was six months after I was suspended. Management deny still that they did anything wrong, even in the light of the Francis Report and all the attention of the Jimmy Saville case. I not sure the Francis Report will really address the problems but support anything that can improve the situation for all staff. As with David Drew the Trust stated that they had no concerns with my professional practice, had never had a patient complaint or a complaint from another agency.

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  • Well done you for having the courage to pursue this. Good luck with the tribunal.

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  • Dear David

    You are an excellent clinician and always will be. I know this as you have seen family members of mine. You have also been my husbands work colleague for many years.
    Bullying still continues at the trust where you worked, I know this as my husband has and is still being bullied by management. I would stand and say this under oath and luckily we have the proof and its only a matter of time. I truly believe that goodness prevails and justice will be done. Please let good nurses and doctors get the power back into our hospitals and remember why we went into this profession at the beginning-for me and my working ethos its treat people like you would like to be treated yourself and look after the people as you would like yourself and your family to be treated.

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  • I am writing a play in which a Nurse named Alison speaks out against bullying, a botched operation and she almost gets destroyed as a result.

    I need to know:
    How do you speak out?
    Who do you contact?

    My wish is all this can be included in my play which lets the public see what actually happens when you speak out.

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  • NT good luck with this.....I was bullied for two years. Trust did nothing except side with and protect the bully.

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  • Anonymous | 5-Apr-2013 5:40 pm

    I am soo proud of you for staying a nurse and helping your patients. How did you manage to stay sane?

    Thank you coming out the other side.


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  • PDave Angel | 5-Apr-2013 10:11 pm

    for crying out loud!

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