In his recent report into whistleblowing Sir Robert Francis QC felt the need to call for legal protection for staff who raise concerns about care. This is a full two years on from his report into care failings at Mid Staffs, which lifted the lid on how the organisation treated staff who spoke up.
Numerous other high-profile whistleblowing cases have shown that Mid Staffs was not unusual in this. Bullying, excluding or vilifying whistleblowers seems the kneejerk response for many health and social care organisations.
It is profoundly depressing that many healthcare providers appear to think that any problems around whistleblowing and raising concerns simply don’t apply to them. Two years into our Speak Out Safely campaign, only just over 100 NHS organisations have signed up, making a public pledge to support staff who raise concerns, despite repeated invitations.
That leaves well over 200 in England yet to do so. Meanwhile, no NHS organisations from Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales have signed up, and only three private providers have done so.
Why do these organisations not feel the need to reassure their staff that they will be listened to if they raise a concern? Do they think staff trust that they would be treated well, or do they simply not want to encourage people to point out things they don’t want to know? Or perhaps they need some evidence to galvanise them.
A report into its early use suggests the cultural barometer designed to identify poor workplace culture, developed by leading nurses, might just give these organisations the evidence they need, assuming of course they have the will to investigate whether their organisation’s culture could be allowing poor, or even abusive, care to go unreported.