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Whistleblower calls for support to stop nurses quitting profession

  • 9 Comments

Leading nurse whistleblower Helene Donnelly has urged the profession to support fellow workers to ensure “much-needed” nurses and carers do not leave their posts.

Addressing the Nursing Times Awards last night, Ms Donnelly said nurses should help each other to deal with the “ever-increasing pressure” staff members are experiencing.

She said there was a feeling among the profession that nurses were not valued and their goodwill was being exploited.

Nursing Times Awards 2014

Helene Donnelly

“Well this must change,” said Ms Donnelly, who whistleblew about the care failings she witnessed at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust and gave evidence to the Francis Inquiry.

“I’m immensely proud of the nursing profession and the NHS,” she said. “We’ve collectively taken a huge battering in recent times…. If we support, empower and enable each other to deliver the best possible care we can at all levels throughout the profession and wider, we will achieve this change.”

She added: “I know that many of us feel so undervalued and so exhausted by ever-increasing pressure they feel they have no option but to leave the profession.

“Many of us feel so undervalued and so exhausted they feel they have no option but to leave the profession”

Helene Donnelly

“We must not lose the much-needed, experienced carers and nurses simply because they feel they cannot go on due to a lack of help,” she told the audience at the Grosvenor Hotel in London.

Ms Donnelly spoke about her current role as an ambassador for cultural change at Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership Trust, where she now works.

The role means she reports directly to the chief executive about concerns raised by staff, as previously reported by Nursing Times.

She said in the first 12 months she had been contacted more than 100 times by workers. This was in comparison to the three phone calls that were made to the trust’s whistleblowing helpline in the year previously.

Ms Donnelly said this proved staff wanted to be able to raise concerns in person rather than through an anonymous phonecall.

She added that recent conversations with health secretary Jeremy Hunt and prime minister David Cameron about her ambassador role and its adoption across the NHS had been a “positive step forward”, but she was yet to see some action.

Ms Donnelly is also a national advisor on raising concerns within the NHS after she became one of those that blew the whistle about care failings at Mid Staffordshire, which eventually led to a public enquiry by Robert Francis QC.

Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust itself will cease to exist at the weekend.

From November, the trust’s Stafford Hospital – which was at the centre of the care failings scandal –will be run by University Hospitals of North Staffordshire NHS Trust and Cannock Chase Hospital will be run by the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust.

The newly expanded University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust will be called University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust. Stafford Hospital is to be renamed County Hospital.

 

  • 9 Comments

Readers' comments (9)

  • The bureaucrat's response - change the name and every thing will be forgotten in a short time.
    Sadly, they're probably right! Let's just hope that for once 'lessons have been learned'

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  • I recently attended a session put on by the Worcs Health & Care Trust on their response to the Francis Report. There were 8 presenters who all managed to avoid mentioning the bullying and intimidation of nurses. When I tried to raise the question of the Trust's refusal to investigate the abuse and ruin of a nurse by their senior staff - as reported by the Nursing Times - I was shouted down by a senior member of the Trust Board.

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  • And Mr Gilbert's comment highlights the issue which is not being addressed: the toxic management culture of the NHS, which encourages and condones bullying and harassment of any staff who do not slavishly follow the current "party line". Sometimes it reminds me of old friends who were involved in Stalinist political groupings.

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  • michael stone

    'She said in the first 12 months she had been contacted more than 100 times by workers. This was in comparison to the three phone calls that were made to the trust’s whistleblowing helpline in the year previously.'

    Something very similar happened (a huge surge in reported concerns to the CQC) after Winterbourne View. Which makes you question the reliability of the 'data' about the prevalence of this type of problem.

    Unless I've lost track, Sir Robert Francis is currently working on this issue - it will be interesting, to see what he produces.

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  • From my experience in a large MH trust a lot of staff complaint/comment/raising concerns about staffing, patient care, working conditions and the like was NOT recorded or documented unless a formal complaint was made.

    For several years the senior clinicians (of whom I was one) on the management team of a community MH service were forbidden by the service manager (apparently on instruction from our director, i.e. from board level) to raise concerns about poor staffing levels. If we did, they were never minuted. When we tried to get minutes changed or refused to agree minutes this was ignored.

    So, yes, previous figures about staff trying to raise concerns should be taken with a Cheshire of salt...

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  • I agree there is a toxic management culture in the NHS - well certainly in the Trust i and my husband work for. Nobody is allowed to challenge or question any management decisions, and the the aggressive and at times openly hostile attitude from the CEO and senior managers has created a resentful and fearful atmosphere.

    My opinion is CEOs have too much power, and NHS managers seem to be becoming increasingly incompetent and ineffective - but God forbid anyone complains!

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  • michael stone

    Just out of interest, do people think that Helene is right about her conclusion here ?:

    'She said in the first 12 months she had been contacted more than 100 times by workers. This was in comparison to the three phone calls that were made to the trust’s whistleblowing helpline in the year previously.

    Ms Donnelly said this proved staff wanted to be able to raise concerns in person rather than through an anonymous phonecall.


    My own 'instinct', is that staff would often prefer to raise concerns against 'management imposed problems' anonymously (with good reason, based on some of the 'horror stories' you can find in the media), and I suspect that people might have been going face-to-face to Helene, because they TRUSTED HER as being on their side ?

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  • michael stone | 31-Oct-2014 2:12 pm

    try twittering instead!

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  • Perhaps it might be useful to consider senior NHS management facing periodic elections to posts (involving staff across the board in an open vote) .This to try and create transparency and accountability. Also to address the issues of bullying and the eradication of oppressive cultures in NHS facilities. Hopefully to improve recruitment and retention of staff. Too much to hope for I think!!

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