Roger is absolutely right that what is needed is an environment where those who raise concerns can do so safely and effectively and where those who prevent staff raising concerns, or who victimise them, are held to account in a manner that is a warning to others. However, CQC alone cannot create this environment – while we can play a part, we don't have the means of doing it single-handedly. It requires all players in the health and social care sector to contribute.
CQC's regulatory powers enable us to take action to protect people who use services, and to force providers to improve if we find that standards of care are inadequate. We investigate concerns raised by whistleblowers and use this information to inform our judgements about whether the provider is compliant with essential standards of quality and safety. But we don't have powers to directly protect members of staff who blow the whistle, and we cannot in practice ensure that they do not face reprisals. That is why PIDA and other employment legislation are vital.
In our guidance for employers, we emphasise their responsibility to encourage an open culture where staff can raise concerns without worrying about the consequences, and we set out how CQC will act on information from a whistleblower. We have worked with partners including the GMC, RCN and the Patients Association to develop the guidance, and taken advice from Public Concern at Work. We will continue to do as much as we can to raise the importance of this issue.