Nurses and midwives are not reporting poor care because of bad whistleblowing procedures, the NMC has said.
Nursing and Midwifery Council chair Tony Hazell called for the government to “remind” trusts to have effective systems.
Professor Hazell said: “There is substantial evidence of vast inconsistency in the way [whistleblowing policy] has been implemented and employers established policies and procedures.”
Speaking at a Conservative party conference fringe event, he said the NMC itself was reviewing its guidance on how to report concerns. But he added: “It will be equally important for the government to remind employers of their duty to establish clear reporting procedures.
“Until nurses and midwives can be confident that employers will respond to their concerns, without risk to their job, patient safety will remain at risk,” he added.
The calls follow concern about why the “appalling” standards at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust were not detected earlier.
Royal College of Nursing head of policy Howard Catton called for good whistleblowing and training practice to be a condition of trusts registration with the Care Quality Commission, along with board awareness of its relative nurse numbers. Cutting registered nursing posts was one of the causes of the situation at Mid Staffs, according to the Healthcare Commission’s report on the trust in March.
Mr Catton said: “Why don’t we make these explicit standards so you won’t get your licence if you don’t have a [whistleblowing] system in place, you know what your skill mix is and you know your staff are getting continuing professional development and training.”