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MP welcomes hospitals trust pledge to protect whistle blowers, but actions speak louder than words...

January 4, 2012 11:07 AM

Tim and the Lib Dems at WGHLocal MP Tim Farron has welcomed the news that the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust has finally agreed with him that they must protect whistle blowers within the Trust who raise concerns about wrong practices. But Tim has cautioned that a protocol is one thing, what happens in practice is another.

The hospital trust agreed to protect whistleblowers after Tim asked the government to step in and agree to protect staff that raise concerns about public safety. Tim wrote to the Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley on the 14th December asking him to clarify the rules on whistle blowing and to send them to every NHS trust inEngland.

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.
This issue has become critical after the Westmorland Gazette exclusively revealed a senior consultant's anonymous testimony that detailed a catalogue of health failings at the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust.

An example of what happened to whistleblowers under the previous rules is Dr Kim Holt, a consultant paediatrician in North Londonwho raised concerns about a clinic where Baby Peter 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 Peter's death.

Tim said: "I welcome the fact Morecambe Bay Hospitals Trust has agreed plans to protect whistle blowing staff. It was something that concerned me greatly, which is why I contacted the Secretary of State for Health asking him to clarify the advice and send it to all hospital trusts in England, including ours in Morecambe Bay. But for me protocols are one thing, what happens in practice is another. I also want to the thank for the Westmorland Gazette for running the piece from the consultant - I don't think we would have forced the trust to agree to protect whistle blowers without it.

"We need doctors, nurses and all NHS staff to feel safe enough to blow the whistle on hospital management as and when they feel necessary. They should also feel that if they expose wrong practices, they will be heard and that changes will be made. Patient safety is something that should never be compromised and I hope that with these protocols we can make further steps towards getting the truth about what is going on at our Hospitals Trust."