Employment news

NHS whistleblowers get Ministerial support

The Health Secretary Matt Hancock has put his weight behind the call for greater support to NHS whistleblowers in an effort to foster greater trust in the health service.

Speaking to the Royal Society of Medicine (https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/getting-the-right-leadership-is-vital-for-patient-safety) he said the NHS needed to accept that medical mistakes happened and “encourage whistleblowing” in order to learn from them. He went to call for a change to the way whistleblowers were viewed – “from a problem to part of the solution”, and said a “learn not blame” culture needed to be embedded.

“Whistleblowers are doing the NHS a great service. Someone who has the courage to speak up and put their head above the parapet should be encouraged and embraced,” said Hancock. “Yet sadly, all too often, they’re ignored, bullied and worse, forced out.”

Although the government-commissioned Freedom to Speak Up review made a range of recommendations to increase protections for whistleblowers in 2015, critics say this has not translated into genuine change to culture or process.

Hancock’s remarks came at the same time as the release of the Kark Review into the appointment of NHS directors in England (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/kark-review-of-the-fit-and-proper-persons-test)

The review’s report included recommendations about changing the behaviour of directors that could negatively impact on whistleblowers.