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Jenni Middleton: 'Wondering about the right thing to do has left nurses with extreme guilt'

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For some time we’ve been concerned about the consistency with which staff’s concerns about patient safety and care are handled by their employers.

This was a big topic of discussion for us at the Nursing Times summit in April last year, and it became clear that although some organisations in the NHS do a good job – there are many that don’t.

I have personally spoken to nurses who, having raised concerns, have been sidelined and ostracised by their employers, bullied and marginalised by their colleagues, and end up feeling ashamed and guilty, as well as concerned that their careers are over.

The feeling of isolation at having done the right thing has led nurses to ill-health and an extreme sense of guilt. Not to mention the impact covering up this has on patients.

This must stop, and we intend to make it stop with this campaign. Regulation plays its part, of course, but the ability of staff to spot what’s going on is irreplaceable in ensuring that the NHS is a safe NHS.

If we want to make sure Mid Staffs does not happen again, we must welcome the input of staff and ensure they are heard, without fear of reprisal.

Jenni Middleton is the editor of Nursing Times.

Sign our Speak Out Safely petitionto support a transparent and open NHS. We are calling on the government to implement recommendations from the Francis report that will increase protection for saff who raise concerns about patient care.

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