Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry, published 290 recommendations to improve healthcare including a raft of measures to make the NHS more accountable. But despite the call for a more open system, many whistleblowers still don’t feel they can speak out against the health service.
A whistleblower is defined as ‘someone who makes public disclosure of corruption or wrongdoing.’ Within the NHS, failings and mistakes can sometimes only come to light if an individual is prepared to speak out about what they have seen.
Since the inquiry, several measures have been put in place to provide support for staff members that raise concerns. These include setting up a whistleblowers’ hotline and also introducing a ‘duty of candour‘ to push for openness about mistakes within the NHS. New guidelines were also issued to help staff that are thinking of speaking out.
Despite these measures, some of those that do come forward still do not receive the proper level of support to help them through the process. Campaign group Patients First has highlighted a number of issues that whistleblowers have experienced including bullying and personal financial loss. As a result, some staff members fear the consequences that they will have to face if they speak out against the health system.
Caring for patients is at the heart of the NHS. Whistleblowers should be encouraged to come forward if they have information that could improve the standards of care being delivered. After all, highlighting issues and errors could mean that the life of a patient is saved.
At Fletchers Solicitors we speak to many people that have become victims of medical negligence.
As a nation, we need to improve the level of support that staff members are receiving so they feel confident enough to speak out. By highlighting issues within the healthcare system, we can work to improve the service for everyone and reduce the number of mistakes that occur.
The NHS is going through many challenges at the moment such as budget and staffing cuts, with politicians debating its future ahead of the next general election. It is of vital importance that the high standards of care are still maintained throughout these changes.