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.