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Whistleblowers to be interviewed by CQC inspectors


Care Quality Commission inspection teams will actively seek out whistleblowers to help them make judgements about the quality a healthcare provider, Nursing Times has learnt.

The CQC’s latest move aims to give complainants and whistleblowers a central role in its new inspection regime.

It follows continued focus on the way the NHS treats whistleblowers who raise patient safety concerns, including through Nursing Times’ Speak out Safely campaign.

The campaign aims to ensure nurses and other health service staff can raise concerns about patient care without fear of reprisal.

The CQC’s plans were revealed in a letter from CQC chief executive David Behan to patient safety campaigner Will Powell.

Mr Powell’s son Robbie died in 1990, aged 10, after doctors repeatedly failed to diagnose or treat a suspected case of Addison’s Disease. An inquest later ruled the youngster died of natural causes but that negligence played a part.

In a letter to Mr Powell David Behan said: “As we build our new approach to inspection we will inspect the way the hospital listens to and responds to whistleblowers and complainants. This will include speaking to a number of individuals directly.

“In particular we intend to offer recent whistleblowers and a representative sample of complainants, the opportunity to meet with our teams as part of the inspection process.

The CQC’s chief Inspector of hospitals Mike Richards is investigating how inspection teams will identify whistleblowers to interview.

Mr Powell, who has campaigned for a legal duty of candour, said: “Historical whistleblowers are as important as current ones and the CQC should be looking at all whistleblowers, complainants and complaints departments. I think this is a step forward to get this kind of commitment.”


Readers' comments (26)

  • ANON 20-Oct-2013 4:18 pm
    I do not mean to be rude or patronising so forgive me for saying that you appear to be a little naive given your responses.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Oct-2013 4:22 pm

    ANON 20-Oct-2013 4:18 pm

    thanks for pointing it out to me. you may well be right but I am outside the UK but believe if such serious reports are not heeded as described above by the appropriate NHS authorities then the police seems the only recourse unless there are more appropriate actions which can be taken to protect patients as well as those responsible for their care.

    Unless some action has already been taken I don't think just reporting it in the comments is going to change anything.

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  • Thank you Anonymous | 20-Oct-2013 7:07 pm and I concur with all you say and I want you to know I have not stopped trying to get the concerns I raised investigated however I am now more aware of the risks to myself and therfore I am more cautious.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Oct-2013 7:54 pm

    from Anonymous | 20-Oct-2013 7:07 pm

    Thanks for your understanding and apologies for my nativity but by questioning, no matter how stupid the questions may sometime seem to others, one learns.

    I wish you every success in your endeavours without any risks to yourself and your career or those of anybody else involved in similar cases.

    clearly, from reading the media and NT, it is a very serious and totally abnormal systemic failure which now it has been brought into the open must be addressed appropriately. The whole situation of anybody being silenced or not listened to for reporting poor care and inadequate staffing and resources to do the job seems inconceivable.

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  • I am an agency staff nurse and have worked in around 200 care homes over the last 9 years. Last month I worked 60 hours in one week at one particular Home where there were a number of serious care issues due to a complete absence of management. I found myself in the position of WB for the 1st time. The Home's regulator responded that "you're complaint is fully upheld .... you were placed in a very difficult position ...."

    As you may imagine I made myself very unpopular with some of the staff in the Home. I didn't realise just how unpopular until my boss told me that shortly after her return from leave the acting Home manager had made a number of very serious allegations against me following my complaint to the regulator. These allegations included assaulting one resident, abusing another, abusing staff, distressing relatives and mismanaging medication (not bad eh?). Some of the care staff had helpfully provided written statements to support the allegations.

    Following a 2 week suspension from my employment during which my boss attempted to seek further information from the Home and questioned various glaring inconsistencies in the written staff statements my boss has recently told me he will be taking no further action on the allegations. Two carers from the Home have sought employment with my employer and both of them have confirmed separately to him that the allegations made against me were part of an orchestrated "witch hunt" and that one member of staff at the Home had said that "I'm going to make his life hell"

    In the interim I have reported the acting Home manager to the nursing regulator. Such is the reality of whistle blowing.

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  • Anonymous | 21-Oct-2013 10:04 am

    what an appalling story and one which makes one want to weep. it is clearly not an isolated one but very hard to understand why people can stoop so low.

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  • Thank you. "Appalling" is indeed the word. As I write this the Home's regulator has slapped a moratorium on admissions pending immediate verifiable improvements.

    As an agency nurse I have seen time and time again how care home providers are prepared to stoop low in pursuit of self interest and are prepared to destroy staff nurses and carers to protect themselves (which isn't necessarily the same as protecting the vulnerable people in their care, believe me).

    Perhaps to my discredit what really bothers me is the fact that had I not kept copious detailed notes of what actually took place where and when over the course of 7 days I would now be in very deep trouble and would have been unable to refute every one of the allegations made against me. Be under no illusions: taken together these would ultimately have led to my removal from the nursing register not to mention criminal charges.

    By the way. I hope you're sitting down. The Director of Nursing of the wonderful organisation which manages this Home not even a registered nurse.

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  • Anonymous | 21-Oct-2013 10:04 am

    strength to your arm! and well done for getting this far.

    " care home providers are prepared to stoop low in pursuit of self interest and are prepared to destroy staff nurses and carers to protect themselves" I have no illusions that this goes on all the time, one only has to read the hearings lists of the NMC to be able to identify that this practice is wide spread, but sadly the NMC are too witless to identify it themselves. Perhaps they have insufficient clinical experience to draw such a conclusion.

    But it is an exceedingly stressful experience you have been through and are still going though, I sympathize! well done for the record keeping and keep that up too.

    One other thing though, if the report to the NMC is about how you have been treated they will say that" it is Nurse to Nurse and so none of their business". Where as if it is about patient care they will take it up.

    The NMC don't care how dishonest nurses are about each other( in my experience) in writing, as long as there is no identifiable record that this dishonesty stretches to the patients records.

    I hope things improve.

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  • Anonymous | 20-Oct-2013 8:29 pm

    "The whole situation of anybody being silenced or not listened to for reporting poor care and inadequate staffing and resources to do the job seems inconceivable."

    It may seem inconceivable to you, but sadly unless there is political motivation the NMC will not address these issues( look at the Stafford Gen Hosp. as the tip of the iceberg or Winterborne, equally). And WB are still persecuted for raising valid concerns which please no one that they are being aired!

    The life of a whistle blower is terribly hard.

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  • whistle blowing seems to have become an epidemic in the UK or the latest buzzword which was not even heard of until a few years ago. If there were open, transparent, skilled and effective communications right across the organisation which focussed on patient care and the needs of the staff to do their work effectively perhaps there would be far less need for whistle blowing.

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