Healthcare leaders must look “very carefully” at the findings of an independent review of treatment of whistleblowers released today, an organisation representing NHS providers and commissioners has said.
The NHS Confederation organisation said the Freedom to Speak Up review “held a mirror” up to the current state of leadership and called for all senior staff in the future not to stand for the ill treatment of or bullying of genuine whistleblowers.
In his introduction to the report, inquiry chair Sir Robert Francis QC said the “truly shocking” effects of bad treatment of staff who raised concerns had been revealed through the review, with some losing their jobs or suffering serious psychological damage.
Sir Robert has made a series of recommended actions based on 20 principles to help create an open reporting culture within the NHS
NHS Confederation said its members – which include hospitals, community and mental health providers – would strongly welcome the report.
“This report holds a mirror up to the NHS leadership – we need to look very carefully at what it shows”
The organisation said it supported in particular one of the report’s key recommendations to ensure training is provided to staff and managers about how to raise and handle concerns.
“Patient safety is paramount and this relies on staff having the confidence to report issues as early as possible,” said NHS Confederation chief executive Rob Webster.
“The report’s focus on early intervention and on the use of mediation where views become entrenched are particularly welcome,” he added.
However, he claimed the vast majority of NHS staff knew how to report concerns and most felt safe to do so.
He said: “This report holds a mirror up to the NHS leadership – we need to look very carefully at what it shows.
“The poor treatment of some whistleblowers is a stain on the NHS. It undermines the great efforts of staff and the exceptional leaders we have in most of the service,” added Mr Webster.