Should you raise concerns if you witness poor care on placement?
Before long, I’m going to be attending an RCN HQ whistleblowing seminar.
As I ponder over the significance of this meeting, I must be honest and tell you that I’ve had to pinch myself a few times and ask, are we really having to do this? In 2014?
Yes, this is definitely 2014, and despite all the advancements that have been made for improved training opportunities for nurses, we still haven’t got whistleblowing right.
Surely by now attitudes and behaviours towards fellow staff and the care delivered to our patients and their families should have improved, right?
Well, yes, that is how it would be in a perfect world, but the sad thing is, it’s not.
What do you do if you’ve witnessed another professional acting in a way that puts patients at risk?
Reporting it does not make you a “grass”, or a “tattle-tail”, or any other negative phrase often used to criticise whistleblowing.
As a student nurse, I understand that you might be wondering if you should risk facing criticism on placement by reporting an issue.
YES!! Definitely! Absolutely! Of course you should report it.
Hey, I’ve had to do this myself and although it wasn’t the greatest experience, I have no regrets.
We are the next generation of nurses and we shouldn’t have to stand for behaviour that will give us all a bad name. You have a duty of care to protect patients and therefore if you witness any level of misconduct, you have a responsibility to ensure that you play your part in preventing it from happening again.
I know you are wondering if we will be taken seriously and, more importantly, how you will be treated once you’ve gone through the reporting process.
No need to worry, your department manager, or placement supervisor, are there to support you during this time alongside your university. Bullying should not be tolerated.
It is a great shame that among the many excellent nurses out there, there are still the odd few who feel they can get away with having no regard for their role and treating the people they came into the profession to care for in such a dreadful way.
It is these nurses that devalue the role and the title “nurse”, which gets right under my skin!
I want to shout out loud C’MON, LET’S GET THIS RIGHT PEOPLE!
I want to speak to those who are reported and tell them that if they cannot handle caring for others in the right way, then this is definitely not the job for them, to put it simply.
It makes no sense spending two or three years of your life studying to uphold the 6Cs, without meaning any of it and falling prey to negative behaviour that puts vulnerable people at risk.
I also want to speak to those who we report to and say please, please, please devise a better system for handling these issues, perhaps one that nurses feel they can trust and feel confident in. And, perhaps one that is not shrouded in so much red tape.
Is there not a better way of managing the investigations while supporting the anxiety levels of the staff member who initiated the report? These staff members need to feel they have been heard, supported and protected. Is that really too much to ask for?
Marlene Raji is in her second year studying children’s nursing at City University, London
Speak Out Safely
Nursing Times is campaigning to make it safe for every member of staff working in healthcare to speak out if they witness care that puts patients at risk. Visit the Speak Out Safely page to find out if your school of nursing has made the pledge.