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New handbook for nurses to raise concerns


Guidance on raising concerns about patient safety in the wake of the crisis at Mid Staffordshire Hospital was launched last week by the union Unison at its annual health conference in Liverpool.

The “Duty of Care Handbook” aims to give staff, from hospital porters to health visitors, the confidence to raise concerns, even if it brings them into conflict with management, the union said.

It is being backed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence and the Health Professions Council,

Unison assistant national officer for health and social care Sarah Peters said the advice was especially important in the current climate of post cuts, vacancy freezes and changes to services putting extra pressure on nurses.

She said: “We are also aware of some high profile cases such as Baby P and Mid Staffordshire that are really putting the issue in the spotlight.

“This handbook is intended to provide members and activists with guidance on ways which you can all raise concerns about potential impacts on the workforce enabling all members to become guardians of safe and effective health care services,” she added.

Research, published last week by the charity Public Concern at Work, suggested one in four people working in the health and social care sector may have been ignored when they tried to raise concerns with managers.

The study was based on an assessment of the calls received by the charity’s whistleblowing advice between 2002 and 2010.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • So will this handbook help us when we get victimised or sacked?

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  • It is so easy to write these things so the onus is on the people at the coal face. Even though Public Concern at Work found that 1 in 4 staff were ignored when they raised concerns, and as Mike suggested, were then possibly victimised or even sacked, the unions and the employers wash their hands of the whole thing once they’ve produced their handbooks. They think they are now exonerated from all responsibility. If nurses, health visitors and midwives tried to implement practice that was shown not to work, they would understandably be castigated for it.
    The unions, the employers’ organisations, directors of nursing, presidents of unions, the Nursing and Midwifery Council all agree – we’re sending you to the lions. It’s all your responsibility. And if you get eaten alive, well tough. We did our bit.
    I despair – yet again!
    Julie Fagan founder member of CAUSE (Campaign Against Unnecessary Suspensions and Exclusions UK)

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  • Julie I applaud your organisation and support and agree with it wholeheartedly. A question though, is there anything that can really be done to hold the unions and the NMC, as well as the trusts and perhaps even the government to account?

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  • Where can we find a copy of this new handbook???? Like many like minded people I have been whistle blowing for many years, and nothing ever sticks. Complaints and incident reports just never get to their destination and if you try' face to face', my life was made very uncomfortable with bullying and general unpleasantries. This was in the NHS and now I am working in a nursing home and trying hard to put things right, this time with a manager on my side! , but the owner is ignorant. I am trying to build a case of up to date data to present in hope of change. It seems to me there are a lot of international nurses being exploited in the UK because they cannot finance the necessary courses to practice and many work as carers for nursing homeowners who also provide their housing!! so they have no choice or voice with fear of lost work and home. So the cost cutting continues , people suffer and the owners get fat.................why can owners run homes with no nursing qualifications or code of practice etc ? so I need a copy of this handbook please.

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