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Why won’t trusts pledge to support staff who raise concerns?

  • Comments (6)

A year on from publication of the Francis report, The Nuffield Trust has published a report on how NHS trusts have responded to Francis’ shocking findings and wide-ranging recommendations. So how much progress has been made?

Well, it’s something of a mixed bag, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. On the plus side, four in five of trusts responding to the Nuffield study said they were taking new action in response to the report, while hospital leaders said they gave greater priority to patient safety and care, and the organisational culture that drives quality.

The report also reveals that nursing is receiving a significant degree of attention, particularly over staffing levels, the role of ward managers, and ensuring fundamental standards of care. Trusts are also working to improve staff engagement and the way they handle complaints.

Less encouragingly, trusts reported that inspections by external regulatory bodies could be better coordinated to make data collection less onerous, and that there remains a profound tension between the competing priorities of care quality and financial performance.

But perhaps the report’s most worrying finding is that many staff still don’t feel confident about raising concerns, despite trusts working hard to create open and transparent cultures, and reviewing their whistleblowing policies.

Culture change takes time to embed, particularly in large organisations. So it’s hardly surprising if staff, having seen the appalling treatment meted out to many whistleblowers in recent years, aren’t immediately won over by these efforts. That’s one of the reasons we set up our Speak Out Safely campaign – it enables trusts to make a very public commitment to protecting staff who raise concerns, and gives staff a set of principles to hold their employers to.

Signing up to NT SOS is simple, and it sends a powerful message to staff, patients and families that the organisation wants to learn from mistakes rather than cover them up. However, to date, only 76 trusts in England have signed up. What kind of message does that send to staff in the rest of the NHS who may want to raise a concern?


  • If your trust hasn’t signed up to NT SOS yet, you can download a letter inviting your CEO to consider it
  • Comments (6)

Readers' comments (6)

  • tinkerbell

    'and that there remains a profound tension between the competing priorities of care quality and financial performance'.

    and there's the rub. Conflict of interests.

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  • Anonymous

    My trust has signed up but I am still suffering significant detriment since raising serious concerns having to move jobs within that trust and still suffering from the fallout
    Need action not lip service
    Not sure what this campaign will achieve

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  • Anonymous

    I raised concerns in practice and systematic processes were not correct, going against 15 years of effective nursing care. The outcome in 2012 of raising concerns and illustrating a better way of nursing was to be 'unfairly dismissed' for me, a case that has been now going on for 2 years , a loss of earnings, my house needing to be on sale, not able to work due to poor self worth and confidence and my whole career destroyed, as I raised concerns with senior management. Poor process, poor management structure, poor listening skills of managers, puts patients at risk. Managers need to take greater responsibility and accountability of the views of senior staff and support staff in clinical practice. My case continues....

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 11-Feb-2014 2:51 pm

    Absolute disgrace that managers can get away with this, and continue to get away with it they will until they get spotlighted for what they are a bunch of bullies who have no conscience about the effect they have on well intentioned clinical staff raising concerns.

    This is never going to change until those who raise concerns are given total amnesty from all forms of malicious persecution from management and no one should lose their job for raising concerns and this should be enshrined in some kind of future law in order to protect whistle blowers and the term whistle blowers should be changed cos' it is so derogatory.

    Hope you recover. Stay strong.

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  • Anonymous

    i have been nursing a short time and have raised concerns with management only for my career progression to be penalised... what does THAT tell you... i love my job but agency work offers more pay for less politics - highly attractive

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  • Anonymous

    The management hasn't changed, that's why. Culture will change when the management does and the premise underpinning the current behaviour.
    I would recommend the Channel 4 Spot the Psychopath test and info, see if your management fits!

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