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Minister: whistleblowers should be 'protected'


NHS staff who have “the courage and integrity” to raise patient safety concerns should be “protected and listened to”, health minister Dan Poulter has said in response to a new campaign by Nursing Times.

Dr Poulter said in a statement that the Department of Health had already taken a number of steps to “protect and support whistleblowers in the NHS”. These included funding a whistleblowers’ helpline, changing employment contracts and issuing new guidance.

However, the Speak out Safely campaign calls on the government to go further. Nursing Times wants the DH to implement a statutory “duty of candour” for NHS organisations, as recommended last month in Robert Francis QC’s Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust Public Inquiry report.  

Nursing Times also wants health service employers to make an explicit public commitment to staff that they will not face disciplinary action for raising genuine concerns, and calls for a review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act to ensure it gives adequate protection for NHS staff.

Dr Poulter said: “From April, the NHS Commissioning Board will be required to include a contractual duty of openness in all commissioning contracts. This means NHS organisations will be required to tell patients if they have been significantly harmed, apologise, and ensure lessons are learned to prevent them from being repeated.

“We are now considering the recommendations of the Francis Report in full and whether we need go further,” he added.


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, and create a more open NHS. Support our campaign by signing our petition.

Visit our Speak out Safely page to find out more.


Readers' comments (4)

  • When is everyone going to realise whistleblowers are not disciplined for raising genuine concerns rather managers construct malicious and vexatious allegations against them. They then put them through a flawed investigation resulting in them being found guilty. Unless you have been through this you will never understand the effects of this on the individual. It affects every part of their being. This is how employers get away with punishing/victimising whistleblowers and sadly the genuine concerns raised are never investigated. It is all a cover up to protect the employer and managers concerned who are frequently incapable and uncaring only interested in covering their backs. I have to remain anonymous at this time

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  • Unfortunately.there is only lip service to protection of whistle blowing.Apart from the employer subjecting you to all sort of victimization, set you up with abuse of patient, taking you with flawed investigation, leading to gross misconduct,then summary dismissal.The institution whose duties is to support whistle blowing,rather side with the Employer.The tribunal frustrate you, postponement upon postponement. At the end the whistle blower is left empty, their whole life turned upside down.SAD

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  • I think what happened to Margaret Hayward is typical of how 'whistleblowers' are treated, a fantastic nurse, unblemished career whose life was almost completely destroyed.

    The former two comments are so very true, there are many nurses who have raised concerns about care only to find themselves the victim - like someone says, the real problem doesn't get solved and the wrong people get disciplined.

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  • Interesting this statement applies to NHS staff only. A huge number of staff have now been TUPE'd out to private companies. Where is the protection for them, particularly in GP practices?? GP surgeries are private companies, contracted to do NHS work.

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