Whistleblowing in the NHS

Time for a public inquiry to tackle ongoing problems with bullying, intimidation, and reprisals

Whistleblowing in the NHS is now a mainstream topic, thanks in part to two key reports published in the first three months of 2015: the Freedom to Speak Up review, chaired by Robert Francis, QC,1 and Anthony Hooper’s review into how cases involving whistleblowers are handled by the General Medical Council.2 Despite these reports, and the interest and attention of the secretary of state for health, the health select committee, and the media, speaking up about patient safety remains both a duty and a huge personal risk—a “catch 22” situation for health professionals that cannot be allowed to continue. Raising concerns without fear is central to patient safety, and much remains to be done to make it happen.

The Freedom to Speak Up review is clear that the NHS has a serious problem. Francis writes: “I have concluded that there is a culture within many parts of the NHS which deters staff from raising serious and sensitive concerns and which not infrequently has negative consequences for those brave enough to raise them.”

Kim Holt

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