MP Says NHS Whistle Blowers Should Be Protected

The Islands’ MP Andrew George has called on Government Ministers to do more to encourage and protect NHS staff who blow the whistle on failures to maintain clinical or care standards in NHS hospitals.

This follows a report on the work of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which found that a fifth of all NHS hospitals inspected fell short of the most basic care they were giving to elderly patients.

Mr George said there should be “a protected open door to NHS whistle blowers.”

He added, “It is only by encouraging staff to speak up that poor standards can be stamped upon. At the moment, nurses and care workers fear the consequences of speaking out.”

Sue Shillabeer from Peninsula Community Health, who run St Mary’s Hospital, says the organisation has a clear whistle blower policy in place which is accessible to all hospital staff through their intranet.

The 14-page document spells out what staff need to do if they want to report any issues including bypassing their line manager or nursing sister at the hospital if necessary.

Staff are also directed to the Health and Safety Executive or the Audit Commission.

Sue says the policy was established some time ago to ensure that issues are dealt with in good faith and there is no comeback on staff members who blow the whistle.

Scilly's MP, Andrew George

In his statement, Mr George also said that there has been a trend in recent years to blame poor quality of care in hospitals on the nursing staff.

He said that, while bad clinical standards and uncaring attitudes “should be stamped upon” he went on to say that evidence suggests problems on wards are largely created as a result of a shortage of nurses rather than poor nursing.

He wants managers to be legally culpable if things go wrong, where it can be demonstrated that nursing staff numbers on the ward are insufficient.