Nearly a quarter of nurses have been discouraged or warned off raising concerns about patient care, according to a survey carried out for the Royal College of Nursing.
The college expressed concern about the “culture of fear and intimidation” in some workplaces following the publication of the results of an ICM poll of 8,262 nurses.
Out of those who have raised concerns, 46% had raised concerns about patient safety in the last six months. Nearly half, 45%, of those who raised concerns said their employer took no action and 44% said worries about victimisation or reprisals would make them think twice about whistle blowing.
Just over 30% said they did not know whether their organisation had a whistleblowing policy.
One survey respondent, who raised concerns about staffing levels, said: “I put in an incident form highlighting these concerns. I was lambasted by my manager for putting in an incident form, as it would lead to them being questioned by their manager.”
The findings, revealed by the college during its annual congress in Liverpool last week, echo those of two surveys carried out earlier this year by Nursing Times.
Our survey of around 800 nurses in March found the majority who raised concerns over patient care believed they are being ignored or punished for speaking out.
It revealed that 84% of respondents had previously raised concerns about a colleague’s practice or attitude, but 52% said there had been no appropriate outcome as a result of speaking out.
In a separate survey of students, half said they had raised concerns about the practice or attitude of a colleague while on placement. But only 37% of those who raised one said it lead to an appropriate outcome for practice or attitude.