David Simpson - Partner, Coles Miller

Why NHS Whistleblowing Needs Your Support13th Feb 2015

by David Simpson on 13th Feb 2015

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NHS whistleblowing: “There is a serious issue in the NHS. It is not just about whistleblowing – it is fundamentally a patient safety issue.”David Simpson - Partner, Coles Miller

So said Sir Robert Francis – who led the public inquiry into the Stafford Hospital scandal – and we could not agree more.

Protection for NHS whistleblowers cannot come soon enough.

We are glad to see the government has accepted Sir Robert’s recommendations on how to protect healthcare professionals who raise concerns.

NHS trusts in England will have to appoint guardians to help protect whistleblowers from bullying, intimidation and isolation.

We’re also being promised:

  • support for the guardians from a new national officer
  • a new support scheme to help whistleblowers who have been sacked and ostracised
  • all trusts will have to set up processes to ensure concerns are investigated properly.

At face value it all sounds good. But in our experience as medical negligence solicitors, we’re going to reserve judgment until there are fundamental changes in the NHS’s culture.

Forgive our worries but we know from clinical injury cases all over the country that a culture of denial is endemic in the NHS.

All these proposed changes sound lovely in the rarified months leading up to an election but how hard will serious change be pursued when the dust has settled on the ballot boxes?

NHS trusts that truly take patient safety seriously should listen not just to whistleblowing clinicians but also to medical negligence solicitors – instead of trying to defend indefensible failures in care.

This is an issue that affects us all. NHS whistleblowers are more likely to put their head above the parapet and trust the new protection being offered if they have the support of wider society.

That does not just mean quiet nods of approval while watching cases unfold on TV – it means being prepared to stand up and make your voice heard if anyone tries to kick this issue into the long grass.

Are you an NHS whistleblower? Or a healthcare professional thinking of blowing the whistle but worried about what might happen? Find out about your rights – contact Coles Miller employment law solicitor Neil Andrews.

Worried by something you have seen taking place at a UK hospital or GP surgery? Contact the head of Coles Miller’s Clinical Negligence Department, Partner David Simpson.

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