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Will 2015 be the year healthcare providers learn to value staff who raise concerns?

  • Comments (4)

We’re coming up to two years since Sir Robert Francis QC published his report into care failings at Mid Staffs. Unlike many “seminal” and “watershed” reports on the NHS and healthcare more widely, which lie gathering dust having been ignored by those targeted with recommendations, the Francis report has already led to changes in government policy and health service practice.

While Sir Robert was at pains to avoid blaming any individual or group for what he saw as systemic failings, many news organisations laid much of the blame on nurses. It is heartening, therefore, to see that both the government and employers are recognising that the quality of patient care is affected not only by the numbers of nursing staff on duty but also the ratio of qualified nurses to healthcare assistants.

One of the areas the Francis report paid particular attention to was the treatment of staff who raise concerns about care. It recommended better protection and treatment for these people, who have been bullied and discredited in many organisations over the years, often losing their careers and suffering mental ill-health as a result. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved significantly.

Our award-winning Speak Out Safely campaign was inspired by the report; by persuading employers to publicly commit to supporting staff who raise concerns we hoped to contribute to the culture change needed across healthcare. To date, just over 100 NHS organisations in England have signed up to the campaign, along with 35 other organisations. That’s great, but it leaves an awful lot more yet to do so – including the whole of the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Sir Robert was asked in 2014 to chair an independent review of the treatment of whistleblowers. His report is due to be published early this year, when we will be redoubling our efforts to persuade NHS and independent healthcare organisations to support SOS. Let’s hope that 2015 is the year when the whole healthcare system finally recognises that people who raise concerns should be celebrated and cherished instead of bullied and bankrupted.

  • Comments (4)

Readers' comments (4)

  • It is not only nurses who complain who are ignored. I am a Primary Carer, my mother is in hospital in West Lothian under a CTO (about which I am taking legal action). I have made several complaints about the way that both she and I are treated. The response is always a complete denial, and failure to address the evidence and to acknowledge NHS and GMC policies. Even if individual nurses are responsible (which is true in my case) the blame must be put on those higher up who refuse to accept any criticism of their employees. In Scotland the problem is made much worse by the Public Services Ombudsman who sides with Public Services by refusing appeals unless the Public Service changes its mind and admits it is at fault - which of course rarely happens, or if it does it is a token gesture.

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  • Anonymous

    please value NT readers and update to Disqus or similar system so we can interact with one another and have some meaningful discussions. thank you.

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  • Anonymous

    useful or interesting

    'While You Were Sleeping...Nurses and Insomnia'

    nammi, Nurse, General Practice, 10:52AM Dec 27, 2014

    Diane M. Goodman!comment=1

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  • The Sir Robert Francis recommendation for better protection for staff who raise concern is not being observed by the majority of employers in Scotland. I invited the CEO of each Scottish Health Board to sign up to the Nursing Times "Speak out Safely Campaign" in December 2013. Not just did none of them sign up; not one showed the interest or professionalism to acknowledge the invitation.
    There is a clear disconnect between Scottish NHS Boards and the frontline. This will only change when board members are called to account for unsafe healthcare. There is no excuse for bullying and bankrupting those raise concern about poor care and it is happening at an alarming rate.

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