Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Inquiry will stop NHS ‘closing ranks’ against whistleblowers


The whistleblowing inquiry led by Robert Francis QC will address how to stop employers from “closing ranks” against those that speak out, preventing them from getting jobs in the future.

The Freedom to Speak Up review into the NHS reporting culture, which is being chaired by Sir Robert, started in August and is expected to report its findings early next year.

“[We want] to avoid that sense of the system closing ranks against someone who is ‘troublesome’”

Jeremy Hunt

As well as the issue of raising concerns itself, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the independent review was investigating what happened to people after they have left a trust where they blew the whistle.

“One of the issues Sir Robert is specifically looking at is, if someone finds they end up leaving their job and they don’t agree with the reasons they were given for leaving that job, and then they find they are unable to get employment elsewhere,” said Mr Hunt.

He added: “I don’t want to pre-empt what Sir Francis recommends to deal with that issue, but that is squarely what he is thinking about – to avoid that sense of the system closing ranks against someone who is ‘troublesome’.”

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

The health secretary was speaking at a health select committee session yesterday in the House of Commons about the wider issue of public expenditure and health and social care.

He described the whistleblowing inquiry as “unfinished business”, following the public inquiry into the care failings at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust, which was also led by Sir Robert and published its findings in 2013.

Mr Hunt said in “too many” parts of the NHS, people felt “very intimidated” about raising any type of concern that they believe may challenge their bosses, including those concerning patient safety.

Robert FrancisRobert Francis

He said the whistleblowing inquiry was part of a wider cultural change that was taking place within the NHS, in which the availability and use of transparent information would soon be viewed as the “main driver” for improving performance.

Sir Robert’s review was due to publish its recommendations by the end of November but they are now expected in the New Year.


Readers' comments (8)

  • michael stone

    I have much more faith in Sir Robert coming up with some sense, than I do in Mr Hunt. However, what happens post publication, however good Sir Robert's report is - well, who knows !

    The delay in publication, might be a good sign - it might mean that Sir Robert won't publish until he's got it completely coherent.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well it might help if service managers were interested in patients welfare as well as their own aspirations and fragile egos. Its quite clear in this Trust that the overriding concern is public image. The invitation to 'share concerns' only really extends to sharing things that managers can brush aside or quieten down. The invitation itself, the way its advertised is just a 'look at us, how open we are, how interested to hear your views' Its completely rubbish. They are not really interested. If you stand out, If you don't tow the line you will not progress in your career. Thats it. Thats the way it is.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Comment removed

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Reoved due to offensive nature. Please refer to this site's terms and conditions before posting further:<br/>

  • Dudley Trust settles out of Court after Whisleblower proved line manager lied in statements
    Firstly I wish to say that I would never criticise NHS frontline staff whom I have huge respect and admiration for who deliver care and treatment having seen first hand how difficult their jobs are.

    I reluctantly just settled out of court in my case of unfair dismissal and appalling treatment as the Trust Security Manager at Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley after almost 6 years of service and fighting for over 2 years, has resulted huge costs to the NHS and personal financial hardship to myself to fight the matter.
    The DGOH Trust will no doubt put out a “For the Record” statement that will be their version of events but this will be a distortion of the truth and be spun to show themselves in the best possible light, so that it appears I am somehow the guilty party to what has been a disgraceful episode and grossly unfair treatment towards my former colleague Mr. John Marchant (who whistleblew in the Sunday Telegraph 5.1.14) and myself.
    The facts are we challenged the status quo and like many others paid for it dearly even if DGOH Trust will no doubt continue to be in denial over.
    My case is not unique as the scandals in the NHS exposed by the media in recent years have shown. What many forget is what happens to the whistle blowers and the sinister culture that still exists in the NHS in towards them. I am one of many who have had their careers ruined and reputations destroyed by top NHS managers, the vindictive way we have been treated by Russells Hall Hospital is just another example of this. In short Directors publically give assurances that staff raising concerns will not be victimised but in reality out of public view do everything they can as in my case to destroy honest staff who do the right thing when patient safety or treatment is adversely effected. We raised concerns 3 years ago on illegal restraint, breaches of Human Rights and in my case fraud/corruption but were ignored. When we challenged Directors that this state of affairs was unlawful in respect of restraining patients we both after a period of time found ourselves out of work through sham redundancies or trumped up disciplinary action.
    We have both also given evidence to the “Freedom to Speak” Enquiry headed by Sir Robert Francis as they were very interested in hearing about our case and what had subsequently happened as a result.
    I think it’s important to point out that hundreds of £1000’s of public money that has been wasted in getting rid of us, that should have been spent on patient care and that those responsible are still in post not bothered because it’s not their money and know no one will do anything about their vindictive treatment of staff.

    My message to any NHS employee is simple, don’t be a whistleblower of any description unless the law changes under the Public Interest Disclosure Act or they make NHS managers personally liable, the law will not protect you when they decide your face no longer fits and will lead to financial ruin as in my case, it has cost personally over £40,000 to pursue my claim and brought my family and I unbelievable stress and turmoil all for considerably less than this in compensation.
    I will never work in the NHS again I’m sure and I am still unemployed after 8 months in spite of applying for many NHS jobs.

    David Ore, Former Trust Security Manager, Russells Hall Hospital

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Comment edited to protect confidentiality. Please refer to this site's terms and conditions before posting further:<br/><br/>

  • to which comment does the Editor's reply refer?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 11-Dec-2014 1:05 pm

    How do you know that NOBODY is interested - you've asked everbody, have you ?

    I am certain David (Ore) that the thrust of your experience is all too common: the situation described by Anonymous | 11-Dec-2014 11:59 am is sadly too-often the reality.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Honest readers who know the truth about events at the Dudley Group of Hospitals will understand David Ores' sentiments. The trust is £12 million in debt but it can still find money to pay off whistle blowers; the financial cost of payments made both to staff and the trusts solicitors is astronomical. Money that should have gone on patient care. Not keeping a float the CEO [Paula Clark] and her deficient Directors. When my own case was settled out of court and I went public Paula Clark stated to the press that she was surprised that so long after leaving employment at Russells Hall hospital I had brought the case to the attention of the press. Paula Clark knew full well that my court case had just been settled, her legal team was in contact with my legal team.When David Ore was subject to a "sham" redundancy Paula Clark stated to the Daily Mail that he was not at risk, Really ? Within weeks he was also removed. Following a lengthy and costly investigation Dudley Safe Guarding published a report on illagal restraint at Dudley Group. Ms Clark took it a an exoneration of the trust, it is not what was published by Safe Guarding it is more a case of what was discovered and not published, which they still refuse to do. There are other hidden people, Davids' MP [Ian Austin lab] and my own MP [Margot James con] both MPs' received in depth briefings and evidence both chose to to pay lip service to the problem. This reflects views already expressed by other - so we know we cant trust politicians either, nor for that matter the CQC when they were informed and given evidence they did nothing but pass the buck.

    John Marchant
    Former Head of Security
    Dudley Group of Hospitals
    Sham redundancy 2012

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I understand the feelings of Mr Ore and Mr Marchant as I was also an NHS whistleblower, and later in social care so I have no faith in half-hearted attempts to modify the Public Interest Disclosure Act. I believe the best solution now is to support the principles of Edna's Law as compiled by Compassion In Care and based on the evidence of 1500 whistleblowing cases. It includes provision for whistleblowers in every sector, not only NHS.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.