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Employers urged to sign whistleblowing charter

16 October 2012

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Healthcare organisations have pledged their support to improve the level of support offered to NHS staff who speak out to raise concerns.

The NHS Employers has launched the Speaking Up charter, which outlines a commitment for regulators, unions, professional associations, and employers to work together to drive improvements in supporting whistleblowing staff members.

The charter, which is supported by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, Monitor and National Voices, has signed up 28 organisations to its six commitments, which include: helping to develop a positive culture by promoting openness and transparency, sharing expertise to break down barriers to reporting incidents and highlighting current law or legislation that could be seen as restrictive to reporting human error.

“NHS organisations subscribe to the values of the NHS Constitution, which makes it clear that patient safety and care depends on staff being able to report misconduct or malpractice without fear of victimization,” said Dan Royles, Director of NHS Employers.

“The NHS has made good progress but we should never be complacent about this issue. Too much is at stake. This charter has been developed in partnership with a number of national healthcare organisations. The result is a series of behaviours that we can adhere to and commit to, which are in the interests of patients, staff and employers.

“We hope it will make a real difference to creating a more positive culture about the importance of supporting staff to raise concerns and standards of care in the NHS.”

Christina McAnea, Head of Health at trade union Unison, said the charter was a “positive result of partnership working” and hopes it will “alleviate staff fears of reprisals for whistle-blowing”.

Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive of National Voices, the health and social care charity coalition, also urged all health and social care organisations to champion the charter and ensure it is used in practice.