Title: Little Stories of Life and Death @NHSWhistleblowr
Author: Dr David Drew
Publisher: Matador, 2014
Reviewer: Dr. Jo Wilson, Healthcare Services
What was it like?
This excellent book clearly outlines the difficulties that NHS Professionals have in speaking out in the interest of patients, services and other professionals. Whistleblowing occurs when an informant within an organisation expose wrongdoing in the hope of stopping poor practice or improving services. The law currently provides little protection to whistleblowers, who feel that others have the right to know, what is going on within complex organisations. The NHS will always need whistleblowers as mistakes do happen, there are different levels of competence and sometimes cover-ups take place in attempts to hide the truth for lessons to be learned and practices to be improved. There have been many concerns raised by healthcare professionals, which are dealt with inappropriately and are often subject to pressure within the organization. Whistleblowers are often seen as troublemakers and they fear retaliation from senior managers. Those who take action have a vision of a kinder NHS where professionals can speak up safely, but often they suffer the consequences as outlined within this book.
The author of this book is a well-known and respected paediatrician who raised concerns regarding wrong doings within an NHS Trust. The book starts with a biographical beginning of the author from his childhood, medical training and experiences, which all build up his character, family and professional life. He then provides a detail account of his practices, experiences and concerns while working within an NHS Trust.
What were the highlights?
The honesty demonstrated throughout this book and the subsequent treatment of the senior doctor who was trying to improve practices, provide safer neonatal and paediatric care, protect staff and provide better working conditions. The willpower of the author who continued to speak out the truth to fight for improved care, despite barriers and boundaries along the way, led to him suffering the consequences. Yet he never gave up. He had excellent colleague support, but suffered from not receiving responses and recognition from senior management – but he never gave up even though his own health was suffering at times.
Strengths & weaknesses:
The book is clearly set out with all the steps and stages that the Whistleblower went through in order to speak up through cults of secrecy and refusal to sign gagging clauses. It demonstrates the humane, kind, thoughtful and compassionate side of a doctor who is prepared to fight for his patients, staff and service improvements.
Who should read it?
Senior management; trust boards; professional organisations including the BMA and Royal Colleges; all grades of medical and nursing professionals; HR professionals.