Whistleblowing in the NHS
The issue of whistleblowing in the NHS is currently gathering media attention. This has been stimulated, in part, by the recent publication of Peter Duffy’s book ‘Whistle in the Wind’, which exposes his treatment for raising legitimate concerns about patient care while working at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.
In the July/August 2019 issue of Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, we cover the issue of whistleblowing in the NHS in three articles:
In this editorial, Roger Kirby, Editor-in-Chief for Trends in Urology and Men’s Health, discusses the inadequate protection and safeguards that currently exist to protect NHS whistleblowers.
Whistleblowing is established as an important aspect of safeguarding patients, yet whistleblowers themselves have suffered as a result of their efforts to expose ‘wrongdoing’. In this paper, David Nicholl considers what progress has been made since the 2013 Francis Inquiry report.
In this comment piece Peter Duffy, Consultant Urological Surgeon, details his personal experience of whistleblowing, including the punitive action and retaliation he received from NHS management and co-workers.
As demonstrated in these three articles, the policies and safeguards that currently exist to protect and support whistleblowers are far from adequate. In many instances it is the whistleblower themselves that end up facing face threats, recriminations and punitive action (such as salary deductions) after having raised legitimate concerns.
As a result, doctors can find themselves at an impasse: they can raise legitimate concerns and risk recrimination and punitive action; or keep quiet and potentially face regulatory censure, or be struck off, for their silence on clinical risk-taking. In this scenario there can be no winners – either the patients or the doctors themselves. Learning from mistakes is vital for progress, and what is now required is a dramatic culture shift where healthcare professionals can feel empowered to speak up when they judge patient safety to be at risk.
Do join us and also add your own thoughts about and experiences of whistleblowing in the NHS. Do you agree that it is an important component of patient safety?