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'Whistleblowing' charter launched


A whistleblowing charter has been signed by health unions, employers and regulators, which pledges to support staff who raise concerns.

The “Speaking Up” charter was launched today, outlining a commitment by 28 organisations to work together to support staff when raising a safety concern. They said they recognised there was “more to do to promote a culture in the NHS where staff can report concerns with confidence”.

Signees include the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the royal colleges of nursing and midwives, Unison, Unite and NHS Employers, which represents trusts and other health service organisations.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles said: “Our staff should feel confident that they can report concerns when they feel things are not going right and be assured that appropriate action will be taken.”

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, added: “It is vital that NHS staff have the confidence to speak up when they have any concerns over standards of patient care or staff safety.”

The six-point charter was developed following a whistleblowing summit held in May. The six commitments signed-up to by all the organisations are:

  • To work in partnership with other organisations to develop a positive culture by promoting openness, transparency, fairness, reporting and learning as an important and integral part of providing safer patient and public care
  • To adhere to the principles of this charter to foster a culture of openness which supports staff to raise concerns
  • To share expertise to create effective ways of breaking down barriers to reporting incidents and concerns early on
  • To exchange information, where it is appropriate and lawful to do so, in the interest of patient and public safety
  • To signpost individuals to support and guidance to ensure that they are fully aware of and understand their protected rights under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA)
  • To seek to highlight issues where current law or regulations may restrict those who wish to raise a concern about a human error.

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Readers' comments (11)

  • Can we also expect a written reply detailing what action will be taken to address our concerns. For example if we report staffing levels, can we now expect a written reply saying why we cannot increase our staffing and stating who will take responsibility when an incident occurs.

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  • a written response within a specific time delay should be demanded for all concerns and complaints raised.

    any verbal communications should be recorded and a response demanded within time limits.

    It should be determined what further action is needed and what measures are necessary and how they are going to be carried out and this should be evaluated and monitored until the desired outcomes are achieved.

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  • And what action will be taken against managers who fail to respond and even attack the person raising concerns as so often happens at present, in order to silence them?
    This will make no difference at all in malfunctioning organisations because it doesn't address this barrier to safe reporting. Another missed opportunity.
    Julie Fagan and CAUSE

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  • Julie Fagan | 16-Oct-2012 8:09 pm

    Julie, I couldn't agree more. My sentiments enirely before I got to read your response

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  • If I raise a 'concern' in writing, I expect a written reply.

    I expect my 'concern' or 'complaint' to be dealt with the same as if it were raised by a relative or patient.

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  • michael stone

    Julie Fagan | 16-Oct-2012 8:09 pm

    'it doesn't address this barrier to safe reporting'

    Indeed, you have to address that first.

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  • I've raised concerns to my ward manager, to those above her both in writing and in incident forms. Nothing ever seems to happen, I don't get any feedback, no reply, I suspect some things are acted on but that others take the credit for bringing these to the attention of managers.

    I've never been 'thanked' for highlighting a safety issue such as under-staffing, equipment failure, patients not being in a safe environment if they are confused, at risk of falls etc.

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  • Anonymous | 18-Oct-2012 9:28 am

    sounds as though you are not very persistent or are not following the correct procedures for your organisation. you need to take your concerns higher.

    why would you expect to be thanked for doing your job?

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  • 9.44 - I am very persistent and always follow the correct procedure, why do you suggest otherwise?

    I expect to be thanked for doing my job well, why not - I thank the bus driver for doing his job, it's called being polite. Come to think of it I even thank the patients for letting me do their blood pressure too.

    I and my colleagues have highlighted safety issues that management are unaware of as they are not on the wards, that to me deserves a little gracious acknowledgement.

    Are you a nurse yourself? do you ever get thanked for doing your job or thank others for helping you do yours? if not do you feel disheartened and unappreciated?

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  • About bloody time! I'm sick of seeing serious issues such as human albumin error, heparin error, brushed under the carpet because nurses are in with the management clique. Whilst other nurses, an ex collegue of mine actually, are told " you are too nice" " too quiet " . . . are placed upon capability because they think it's a risk. Hello! You have risks right before your eyes and do nothing about it because it's your best buddy and go out on the town every week. I feel discusted and have lost a good collegue who was caring, polite, had a wealth of knowledge but had her confidence shattered by seniors who can not deal with actual incidents and a list as long as my arm. This will encourage people to speak up and front the bad practice that goes on. Power to the people I say.

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