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'Make culture change the priority for 2014'


Welcome to this special Christmas bulletin edition of Nursing Times.

This year has been an exceptional one in healthcare, and the news keeps on coming, so we decided to publish an extra issue just before Christmas to review the year that was 2013 and give you a final round-up of everything that is happening as we head into 2014. Don’t forget is here 24/7 so you can continue to stay up to date online while we take a break for Christmas.

The thing that will be most remembered this year will, of course, be the much-anticipated Francis report. The seminal report listed what had gone wrong at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and highlighted what the NHS as a whole needed to do to improve the provision of safe and quality healthcare.

Reports and reviews have been what has defined this year – Keogh, Berwick and Cavendish have all made a case for change. The government’s response has been critiqued as not going far enough – but some pundits are saying staff should stop focusing on what isn’t being recommended and try to own the change.

One of the biggest changes Nursing Times would like to see in 2014 is for an open and honest culture to become commonplace in the NHS. This would encourage people to speak up when they see poor care or situations that may harm patient safety.

Shortly after the Francis report, which revealed just how hard Mid Staffs nurse whistleblower Helene Donnelly had found it to get her concerns listened to, allegations of gagging NHS staff were revealed. It started with former chief executive of United Lincolnshire Gary Walker, who claimed he too had been prevented from voicing his concerns about a target-driven culture that put patients at risk, and he said he had been forced out of his job as a result.

We discovered these two cases were far from isolated. All over the service we were approached by staff who had been ignored, silenced and often forced out of long and illustrious careers. This inspired us to launch Speak Out Safely, a campaign that encourages all employers to create a transparent culture and listen to their staff when they think patient safety is in jeopardy.

We want everyone to sign up – and if your organisation hasn’t pledged its commitment to supporting staff who raise genuine concerns, then please encourage them to do so. Make that your new year’s resolution for 2014. All the details, and even a letter you can download and send to your chief executive, are at

Signing up couldn’t be easier so please do act today.


Jenni Middleton, editor
Follow me on Twitter: @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (2)

  • George Kuchanny

    An 'open and honest culture to become commonplace in the NHS'. Could not agree more Jenni. This is critically important.

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  • Great idea but suggest extending to Faculties of Health in Universities. They are the cash cows keeping uni's afloat, where does all the NHS contract money go? Dare staff speak out - no too afraid of losing their jobs

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