We should welcome announcements like this that go towards openness and transparency in the health service. But let’s not forget this is the fifth time that gagging orders have been banned.
Really the issue is not about whether they have been banned but what senior managers and civil servants have been doing to get around this law all this time.
Sign our Speak Out Safely petition to support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from theFrancis report that will increase protection for staff who raise concerns about patient care.
It’s clear that we already have hundreds of nurses and other health professionals who have been gagged in the past. Many of them will have known information about patient harm that will have been suppressed. We need to know what has been suppressed and by whom.
I would like to see the promise of openness and transparency turned into reality for all staff so they feel protected. And I would like to see accountability for those who have already broken the law over gagging orders.
I want to know what has been hidden already. Steve Barclay says that the government may have already paid £15m out in these agreements, but with legal fees, that could easily be double that.
Lots more needs to be done to make sure all staff feel supported and able to raise concerns in the first place. We can see that when staff have minor issues on the ward, for example, these are often responded to well. But we need to see that being the case higher up. People need to feel able to raise concerns without the tables being turned on them.
“Ultimately it is all about having the right leaders with the right morals in place. We need to bring in people who will drive quality and safety in the NHS.”