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Poor treatment of whistleblowers continues

23 September 2014

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The bullying of NHS staff who raise concerns has become “commonplace” in the health service, a whistleblowers network has claimed. 

In the dossier submitted by Patients First to the government review into whistleblowing into NHS, the group revealed that in all cases of whistleblowing the individual suffered some loss either professionally, personally or financially. 

In many of these cases (43%) the staff have left the NHS completely. Evidence shows that 44% of staff who raise a concern never hear any response from management. 

The group argues that there is a “lack of understanding” in both managers and staff as to what constitutes whistleblowing. 

Patients First has made 46 recommendations in the dossier. Six main points the group calls for are: 

1. A zero tolerance approach to bullying.

2. A Public Inquiry into whistleblowing is warranted and some form of restorative justice.

3. The NHS should adopt an approach of “early intervention” as soon as any serious patient safety or care concerns are raised so that they are dealt with swiftly and fairly and not allowed to drag on damaging staff and avoiding the concerns raised. 

4. Those who victimise whistleblowers should be held to account. 

5. Trusts must take a series of practical steps to ensure patient safety is a priority, recognising how important it is that staff feel that can safely speak out, without fear of detriment, and be valued for doing so. 

6. This Review must take decisive action to protect whistleblowers as all previous attempts have failed. 

In the written statement accompanying the dossier, Patients First write: “There is a real and continuing problem over the treatment of those who raise concerns. Notably the divergence between best practice and the norm (and indeed worst practice) appears to be getting greater.”