79% of whistleblowers are being bullied


Can an open complaints culture be achieved within the NHS?

Campaigners are still striving for a more open whistleblowing culture for NHS staff, as employees wishing to raise complaints are continually coming up against problems, such as bullying.

Despite public inquiries recommending the promotion of whistleblowing, campaigning group Patients’ First believe that a ‘culture of fear’ still exists, with issues including bullying and the mismanagement of complaints being highlighted in a dossier of 70 cases. This document is being handed in as part of Patients First’s submission to an independent review of whistleblowing, which was set up by the Department of Health in England and is being led by Sir Robert Francis.

Whistleblowing concerns

In 79% of recorded cases, the whistleblower had been bullied, while in a fifth of cases, the individual had run out of money or was unable to access legal advice. The document warns that there is a “real and continuing problem over the treatment of those who raise concerns”.

Patients First chairwoman Dr Kim Holt told BBC News “There has not been any real progress. I have been shocked by the number of people who come to us who are having problems. For me, bullying is the major issue. We need to get employers to take this seriously and implement the policies they have to give whistleblowers proper support. That is the only way of changing this.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said “We have come a long way since the tragic events at Mid Staffs but we still hear of cases where staff concerns are being ignored. That’s why I asked Sir Robert Francis to lead this review, and help create a more open culture in the NHS.”