Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NHS chief execs should 'beg' nursing staff to raise concerns


NHS chief executives should crawl “on bended knee from one side of their hospital to the other” to beg staff to raise concerns, according to a leading health policy commentator.

Speaking at the RCN Congress in Liverpool, Roy Lilley said that he did not understand why senior directors needed their staff to blow the whistle.

In a speech that entertained and challenged conference delegates, he also said if NHS staff were empowered to handle complaints and trained to do so as they are in private business, the NHS would have far fewer serious problems.

Roy Lilley

Roy Lilley

Mr Lilley, a former NHS Health Authority and trust chair, said NHS trusts were “very bad” at handling complaints, but there were six simple steps to the process – listen, sympathise, don’t justify, make notes, agree a course of action and follow through.

He also aired his strong belief that nurse staffing numbers should be mandated, pointing out that minimum staffing numbers were “prescribed in law” for those working in airlines, in a crèche, and at football grounds.

He highlighted that staffing numbers were mandated in hospitals in New Zealand, Australia and California, based on safety requirements.

But he said in England the number of nurses was decided “by some berk with a calculator who works in the finance department”.


Nursing Times is campaigning for better protection of whistleblowers. Find out more on our Speak Out Safely page


Readers' comments (5)

  • chief executives, should be aware of the staff that are off sick, work related stress and the culture of some wards and matron.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • why aren't nurses taught some social intelligence and how to deal with people with tact which also includes their complaints. if a patient is unhappy you don't just stand before them filling in a form with tick boxes. you listen to them an show you are listening and talk them through the problem and show them what you will try to do to resolve the problem and if you cannot you find somebody who might be able to. how to deal with others is, or was, part of childhood development and playing with peers and then further developed in school and training courses. it is probably the result of too much IT that they young have no idea anymore of meaningful face to face communications and how to solve the simplest let alone complex problems. it can give rise to anger in those they are dealing with and instead of showing an inkling of understanding they get upset don't know how to cope, blame the other and scuttle off to their managers proclaiming 'zero tolerance'! a total disgrace which only serves to perpetuate complaints as people have no sense of security, trust and confidence which nurses should know themselves is severely exacerbated under certain conditions such as stress and illness. you are supposed to be there to understand and help your patients not to antagonise and vex them!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I think it should be made compulsory that Chief Executives of a Hospital are Informed when an NHS worker raises a concern on a particular ward they work in, in regards to Poor Patient Neglect and duty of care.
    I also believe there should be more support and protection when the whistle is blown on poor service.Employees seem to think that HR is on their side and there to help them.this is a Myth.The HR department are there to protect your employer,Not you.
    I have personal experience of this which is still on-going.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chief execs wouldn't have to beg staff to raise concerns if the complaints culture was changed to a concerns culture and the way they are handled in accordance to that ethos. All managers should have to attend a compulsory concerns reporting course which includes research, real life examples and cases, and an emphasis on accountablility i.e. of all professionals individually as well as groups. Managers also need to know they will be held accountable for how they handle concerns and maybe then they will take them seriously. Change Whistleblowing policies and procedures to 'Concern Raising'. Take all the trouble makers connotations away. Do a big rebranding drive. The positive repercussions would be worth it. I have been involved in a few whistleblowing cases in my career including a police investigation where my line manager was subsequently jailed and every single one has caused me extreme stress, illness, and personal and professional disruption simply because of how they were viewed and handled. If it doesn't change soon, those Chief Execs knees are going to get very bloody I'm afraid.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hear, hear to Roy Lilley.
    Chief Execs and their Board Members need to keep a close listening ear to frontline staff.
    Another way for nurses to influence improvements is to join Healthwatch whose remit is to 'champion' patient and public involvement in the NHS. HW also has a Scrutiny Function by which it can write comments on Trusts' Quality Accounts. QA's are pubished for all to see - surely an incentive to improve standards by having adequate numbers of properly trained nurses.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.