Protection for Whistleblowers in NHS

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
18 December 2015

This Conference is aware of the stress placed on a member when they access the whistleblowing process.

A decision to whistleblow is often the result of much soul searching by the Member(s) and is made more difficult when they see the effects on other people who have ‘whistleblown’. This can lead to:

• suspension from work

• moves to another site (and not always the same kind of work);

• A feeling of isolation

• Lack of support from the employer

Leading to a situation where whistleblowing does not always happen when it should.

Conference notes the Wales NHS policies on ‘raising concerns’ and Dignity at Work and bullying, they are policies of which to be proud.

However, the reality for members is that they feel abused by the process, when in fact they should be supported, they should be working in a no blame culture, where raising concerns is the norm. There is a serious institutional fault where the response from those in authority is to not want to know; make the whistleblower feel at fault and be defensive.

Conference, we know this leads to a poor workplace and personal distress to our members.

This Conference therefore urges our Delegates to the All Wales Partnership to call for the Wales NHS to:

1)Commission research into this, highlighting the effects from the Mid Staffs report and previous reports identifying behaviours of concern

2)Ensure that the Health Boards “are responsive to patients and their concerns and do not build up a process that becomes governed by the system, rather than by the issue that’s at the heart of the anxiety” Donna Ockenden report to Welsh Government November 2015. The same ethos should apply to staff.

3)Work in partnership with the Trade Unions to ensure that there is transparency relating to all whistleblowing cases, in that they will be monitored and reviewed quarterly in each health board to ensure all Trusts in Wales are working to improve the culture in their Trusts.

4)The Royal College of Psychiatrists Faculty for the Psychiatry of Old Age 2003 report into elderly care should be the starting point for assessing possible poor care

Members should not be the only people responsible for whistleblowing, and we need to protect patients and our members by working with Wales NHS to actively improve the whistleblowing process for the benefit of us all.