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Findings from Francis review into NHS whistleblowing due today


A major review into how NHS staff who raise concerns are treated is set to announce its recommendations later today.

The findings are unlikely to make easy reading for many in the health service, with the review expected to reveal shocking examples of bullying taking place when staff have sought to raise concerns about care failings.

The Freedom to Speak Up Review, led by Sir Robert Francis, was announced by the government on 24 June 2014.

The independent review was asked to consider what further action was necessary to protect health service staff who speak out in the public interest, with the ultimate aim of creating an “open and honest reporting culture in the NHS”.  

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.

Over the last six months the review team has been collecting evidence including a survey and hearing first-hand experiences of staff who have raised, or attempted to raise, concerns about the health service.

“Those who speak up when things go wrong in the NHS should be welcomed for the contribution they can make to patient safety”

Robert Francis

Using the evidence gathered from the research and from the personal experiences and views shared with his review, Sir Robert will make recommendations in a 200-page final report later today. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to respond to the report in the Commons at around 2pm.

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

Speaking previously on the need for his review, Sir Robert said: “Those who speak up when things go wrong in the NHS should be welcomed for the contribution they can make to patient safety.”

Sir Robert, a leading barrister, previously chaired the landmark 2013 public inquiry into care failings at the former Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.

Katherine Fenton, chief nurse at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has acted as the nursing advisor to the Freedom to Speak Up Review.

Nursing Times will be publishing breaking news and analysis on the review’s findings and recommendations from midday.

Launched in March 2013, our own Speak Out Safely campaign has encouraged healthcare providers to develop cultures that are honest and transparent, to actively encourage staff to raise the alarm when they see poor practice, and to protect them when they do so.

Hundreds of NHS and independent organisations, including trusts, universities and other stakeholder groups, have so far pledged to do so. Visit Nursing Times to find out if your employer is on our list.


Readers' comments (3)

  • As always plenty of concerns about whistleblowing in the NHS but why do we never hear about whistleblowing and bullying in the private sector ?
    Who stands up and protects any nurse in a private hospital when they raise a genuine concern ?

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  • Eduardo,
    Do we have any firm evidence that the scale of bullying in the private sector is anywhere near the level of bullying in the NHS?

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  • Anonymous | 11-Feb-2015 6:12 pm

    it exists and ruins careers. why should it be any different?

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