Enhancing Whistleblower Protection in the NHS

Enhancing Whistleblower Protection in the NHS
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London (Parliament News) – NHS staff must feel safe to whistleblow, and management must act, stated Health Secretary Victoria Atkins. She emphasized protecting patient safety over reputations, supporting whistleblowers, and fostering a positive NHS culture.

NHS staff must be capable of blowing the whistle and the health service must attend and act, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has stated. “It cannot be right that NHS management disburses millions of pounds fighting doctors who have troubles over patients’ safety,” she reported in the Telegraph, referring to an analysis by the newspaper published this week.

“I will never put protecting reputations ahead of protecting patient safety. Every concern should be investigated, and every staff member should be free to raise them without fear of recrimination or damaging their career,” she said as reported by Evening Standard. “That is why this government is building an NHS that encourages speaking out, protects whistleblowers, and always puts patient safety first.”

How Does the NHS Ensure Staff Can Speak Up?

Ms Atkins expressed each of England’s NHS trusts now has a devoted member of staff known as a freedom-to-speak-up guardian, to attend to and support staff who want to convey concerns.

These guardians have already endured more than 100,000 cases and more than eight in 10 staff who spoke out to give feedback declared they would feel comfortable doing so again, Ms Atkins said.

She stated that a national independent guardian and helpline service had also been set up.

New, standardised background reviews have been brought in for NHS board members, to contain “irresponsible leaders from covering their tracks by jumping between organisations”, she said.

A review of the whistleblowing framework reported last year is ongoing and evidence and next actions will be published in due course, she said. She added: “I have asked my officials to look closely at these NHS whistleblower cases to identify the common themes and to consider what possible action could be taken to address the issues. This is to ensure a positive culture that promotes speaking out within the NHS becomes the norm, not the exception, across England.”

The Health Secretary’s comments come after the Telegraph issued an investigation into the NHS’s treatment of doctors who state they were targeted after sounding the alarm.

How Does the NHS Handle Safety Concerns Raised by Staff?

Professor Phil Banfield, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) council, reported in the Telegraph that doctors who present issues are “often met with hostility and risk losing their careers”.

A doctor from Justice For Doctors, which was set up in 2019 to sustain medical professionals who feel targeted because of whistleblowing, stated on Thursday the group had seen “a pattern” of doctors who raise concerns being investigated themselves. Dr Salam Al-Sam conveyed the Patient Safety Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London: “They express ‘concerns were raised against you, you are not allowed to practise until we’ve finished our internal investigation’.”

Massimiliano  Verde

Massimiliano Verde is a journalist at Parliament News, He is covering Society and Culture News. Boasting a Master's Degree in Political Science, stands as a prominent figure in the Italian cultural landscape. His presidency of the Neapolitan Academy, a scientifically and sociolinguistically renowned group, attests to his relentless dedication to safeguarding and promoting Neapolitan language and culture. His activism and profound expertise have propelled him into the role of interlocutor for UNESCO as part of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), a prestigious acknowledgment highlighting the significance of his efforts in preserving the linguistic and cultural diversity of our planet.

Verde's fervent passion for the history and culture of Southern Italy has driven him to immerse himself in research, resulting in numerous essays and articles that delve into the peculiarities and beauties of the region. His commitment extends beyond academia, manifesting in ongoing dissemination activities aimed at acquainting the general public with the rich cultural heritage of the South. His endeavors transcend national boundaries, as evidenced by his participation in international conferences and collaboration with various foreign institutions, rendering him an ambassador of Southern culture on the global stage and fostering intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding.