We launched this campaign back in March in the wake of Francis and what he’d found out about the culture of the NHS through his deep dive into what went on at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.
He revealed an NHS that was far from open and transparent, one that bullied and blamed and covered up rather than put patients first.
Inspired by what had happened to Helene Donnelly, one of the Mid Staffs nurses who had tried to raise concerns, but was bullied instead of being heard, we decided to encourage all healthcare organisations to support staff who want to speak up about patient safety concerns.
The main things we are aiming to achieve are:
1. The government to introduce a statutory duty of candour compelling health professionals and managers to be open about care failings
2. Trusts to sign up to our campaign, making a public commitment to supporting staff who raise concerns
3. The government to undertake a wholesale review of the Public Interest Disclosure Act, to ensure whistleblowers who take concerns outside their organisation if they are not taken seriously internally are fully protected.
We’ve focused most of our effort on getting organisations such as the Royal College of Nursing, the unions and patient campaign groups to support us. But we’ve also been asking trusts to sign up too. Sadly, very few have.
And I can’t really understand this. Why wouldn’t you want your staff to feel able to tell you when they see poor practice or feel that something is being done that puts patients at risk? As the eyes and ears of the frontline, nurses, doctors and allied health professionals are the eyes and ears for the board. They see what goes on and they know instinctively – and instantly – when something isn’t right.
I can only assume that those trusts that have not signed up have not done so because they don’t understand how easy it is or don’t know about it – though we have written to chief executives of all acute and mental health trusts and clinical commissioning groups at least twice since launch.
But you know how easy it is to miss communications. Hence this week. I’d like all of you to ensure that your organisation is signed up. You can check out who is signed up by looking at this list here: nursingtimes.net/sos.
If they are not included, then they are not signed up to Nursing Times Speak Out Safely. So let your chief executive or board know. There are letters on the site you can send to them to invite them to pledge their support.
And if you are a chief executive and you want to sign up, then it couldn’t be easier. The site tells you what to do – namely make sure your raising concerns policy is accessible to all staff and available on your intranet, commit to encouraging and supporting staff who raise genuine patient safety concerns and put our logo and pledge on your website – contact us and we will send it to you. Done all that? Then send an email with the appropriate link to your website to email@example.com to let her know and we will add you to our list of supporters.
Do it this week, and you’ll get included in a special daily Nursing Times Speak Out Safely campaign newsletter we will be sending out every day. So – what are you waiting for?
I look forward to hearing from you this week.
In the meantime, keep speaking out.