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Findings from Francis review into NHS whistleblowing due next week


A major review of NHS whistleblowing by Sir Robert Francis QC will be published on 11 February, it has been confirmed.

Sir Robert said he has completed his Freedom to Speak Up review and has sent his final report to Jeremy Hunt.

He plans to publish the report on Wednesday 11 February on the review website.

It was announced in June last year that Sir Robert had been appointed to lead a review of how whistleblowers are treated in the NHS.

The former chair of the Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust public inquiry was asked by the government to consider what further action was necessary to protect NHS workers who speak out in the public interest.

It followed calls for a public inquiry into whistleblowing in the NHS by a number of high profile whistleblowers and their supporters, including Patients First, a campaign group headed by former Great Ormond Street paediatrician Kim Holt, and GP and Private Eye journalist Phil Hammond.

Speaking ahead of the review’s launch in August, Sir Robert said the role of probing claims made by NHS whistleblowers could be taken out of the hands of hospital trusts.

In an early sign of the direction the inquiry could take, he said whistleblower concerns should be subjected to outside scrutiny.

“In the same way I have suggested complaints from patients will often need a degree of external investigation and independent scrutiny [that] they haven’t had before, I don’t see why the same can’t be suggested for staff raising concerns,” he said.

The review was originally due to be published last November, but it was postponed to 2015 due to the high number of contributions and evidence it had received.

A spokesman for the review said at the time: “In view of the very high volume of contributions to the review, it has been agreed Sir Robert Francis will publish his final report early in the new year.”


Readers' comments (11)

  • michael stone

    I look forward to reading this one - whether things will actually change, is a different question ! I'm not at all surprised that there were a lot of 'contributions'.

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  • This sounds promising.
    The simple plan to use independent, outside assessors to investigate is so obvious once it has been reported, that one wonders why this has not happened before.

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  • michael stone
    michael stone | 2-Feb-2015 2:27 pm

    who is interested in what you are looking forward to reading. perhaps if you have to comment here your could return once you have read it with some intelligent and even constructive reflections on it!!!!!!!!

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  • Response to Anoymous on the 3rd of Feb commenting on Michael Stone's post 2nd of Feb.

    I'm with Michael on this one: given the degree of bullying and harresment by senior management in trust's across the country which have gone largely unaddressed for years, it's hardly suprising that many of us don't have blind confidence in this review effecting any real change; as much as I would like to think otherwise. My suggestion to Anonymous- 3rd of March, is that you re-read Michael's post and try to think laterally about this in the context of the artical, even if this isn't something you're accustomed to doing.

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  • Anonymous | 4-Feb-2015 10:03 am

    best wait and read what the report actually says first and make some intelligent comment on that rather than vacuous comments about looking forward to reading it. Michael's commentary goes back a very long way and is not just restricted to this page.

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  • comment from anonymous 9.39 is offensively personal to my mind. Please aim for something a bit more relevant in future. Mr Stone may be opinionated but it is on the subject and whilst I am not in full agreement throughout with him, he is on the subject and entitled to display his opinion. That is what this site is for.
    Re the Francis report, it's pointing in the right direction, I think. Likewise the 4th issue from the health select committee - full, written apologies to whistleblowers are a must.

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  • Attn: Michael Stone et al

    "The Story of Stone Soup

    Once upon a time, somewhere in post-war Eastern Europe, there was a great famine in which people jealously hoarded whatever food they could find, hiding it even from their friends and neighbors. One day a wandering soldier came into a village and began asking questions as if he planned to stay for the night.

    "There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "Better keep moving on."

    "Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his wagon, filled it with water, and built a fire under it. Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a velvet bag and dropped it into the water.

    By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come to the square or watched from their windows. As the soldier sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their skepticism.

    "Ahh," the soldier said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage -- that's hard to beat."

    Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a cabbage he'd retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot. "Capital!" cried the soldier. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king."

    The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for all. The villagers offered the soldier a great deal of money for the magic stone, but he refused to sell and traveled on the next day. The moral is that by working together, with everyone contributing what they can, a greater good is achieved."

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  • But whilst waiting for this report, we hear the report from Ombudsman in England re: standard of investigations (and from very non-scientific personal experience would apply in Scotland too). My employer, with a previous government level report into its bullying culture, now has 'values' appended to all its websites/e-mails, but is still trying to pay victims who dared to speak up with gagging orders (sorry, compromise agreements) rather than actually address the culture.

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  • michael stone

    I've been trawling through NT pieces trying to find a couple of comments (without success so far) to use in something I'm cobbling together, and I've just discovered the more recent of these posts.

    Re Anonymous | 4-Feb-2015 9:00 pm, I have been described as 'opinionated' and the description is true - the description 'holds some strongly developed views about [end of life behaviour]' is also true.

    But there is something interesting about this website: I am fairly regularly told by one, or a few [can't count them - they post as anonymous] people, that I have no idea what I'm talking about, and that I'm an idiot. Most of my e-mails, which tend to be on the same topics, are with people who are professors and/or consultant medics, and they rarely suggest that I don't know what I'm talking about - they sometimes disagree with me, but more often they agree with me.

    And I don't get the 'attacks' which appear here, on the BMJ website, where I post about similar issues.

    Irrelevant, but sort of interesting.

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  • michael stone | 21-Feb-2015 1:41 pm

    the word is trolling, not trawling!

    BMJ is a journal for medicial practitioners please don't hack that up as well. some profesisonals also wish to debate there as well since NT comments has been trashed.

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