Nearly two-thirds of nurses have raised concerns about patient safety with their employers but more than one in three whistleblowers said no action was taken, a survey has shown.
A survey of 5,000i members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which looked at attitudes towards reporting worries about patient safety, showed that nurses were committed to improving care for patients.
This was despite the fact that the majority (78%) said they would be concerned about victimisation, personal reprisals or a negative effect on their career if they were to report concerns to their employers.
More than a fifth of nurses (21%) revealed that they had been discouraged or told directly not to report concerns at their workplace and less than half (46%) felt confident that their employer would protect them if they spoke up.
The vast majority (99%) of registered nurses understood their professional responsibility to report worries about patient safety but fears about personal reprisals meant that less than half (43%) would be confident to report concerns without thinking twice.
Of those who had reported concerns (63%), nearly half (49%) had filled in incident forms which are a formal mechanism for documenting situations that are a potential threat to patient safety. More than a third (35%) said that no action was ever taken.
RCN general secretary, Peter Carter, said: ‘Sadly, the recent example of Mid-Staffordshire shows us what can happen if genuine concerns are dismissed or not investigated properly. We know that incident reports filled in by nurses were not acted upon with disastrous consequences. We also know that nurses have genuine concerns that they will be victimised if they speak up. And too often they’re right.’