MP calls for more support for NHS whistleblowers
With the launch today of Patients First, a group that has been set up to help protect whistleblowers within the NHS, local MP Tim Farron has called on the government to strengthen rules to protect health professionals that raise concerns of patient safety.
This issue has become critical after the Westmorland Gazette exclusively revealed a senior doctor's testimony that detailed a catalogue of health failings at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust. Since then the paper has run a series Hospitals in Crisis reports.
This week health bosses were grilled by county councillors about the doctors' testimony. Many health professionals have told Tim privately that if they publicly raise their concerns they fear that it will affect their careers and they will be ostracized within the trust.
An example of this is Dr Kim Holt, a consultant paediatrician who raised concerns about a clinic where Baby P was treated days before his death who has accused NHS managers of using employment laws to gag whistleblowers. Holt has also said she was offered £120,000 to withdraw her complaints after Baby P's death.
Commenting, Tim said: "Giving staff the confidence to be able to make sure staff can blow the whistle on dangerous practices without fear of retribution is vital to help get to the truth of what is going on in the NHS and specifically at local hospitals. I am asking the government to strengthen the rules and protect staff. I have heard of NHS trusts around the country that put clauses into contracts that preclude whistle blowing. That is wrong and government must stamp this out. I also want the trust to publicly agree that staff who make public their concerns will be treated with respect and will not be adversely affected and will not be gagged."