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Protect response to CQC Whorlton Hall report

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published the findings of an independent review into how it dealt with concerns raised in relation to the regulation of Whorlton Hall.

Bosses at the (CQC) have been criticised in an independent report by David Noble into why it buried a critical report into Whorlton Hall hospital, a privately-run hospital in County Durham, in 2015. The report said the care watchdog missed multiple opportunities to identify abuse of patients and did not act on the concerns of its own members.

Protect Head of Policy, Andrew Pepper-Parsons said, “The CQC has acknowledged it was wrong not to make public this report in 2015. Yet, it’s a positive the CQC have now been transparent in airing failings in this way – it means that both the CQC and other organisations can learn from the experience.

“The findings into how the CQC handled the concerns raised by former CQC inspector Barry Stanley-Wilkinson is a stark reminder of the importance of feedback. What happens in practice needs to match the guarantees written in the whistleblowing or Speak Up policies. Though the CQC had a Speak Up policy that looked effective on paper, in practice it was found wanting, with no mechanisms to review how the policy operated in practice. The recommendations to improve the Speak Up process were made by the investigator, but these changes were not implemented.”

The report also found the whistleblower suffered a lot of stress and strain, in fact they had periods of sickness and eventually resigned stating they felt let down by the CQC.  Better feedback could have helped to elevate the stress.

Andrew added, “Having a written policy that meets best practice is straightforward.  But it is a common failing to not deal with whistleblowing in the correct operational way”

The report again underlines the need to reform the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) to place a legal duty on employers to not just have a whistleblowing policy but to ensure it works effectively in practice. Our draft Whistleblowing Bill calls on employers follows existing best practice for internal whistleblowing arrangements and would require organisations to have the following things in place:

  •   Employer should establish channels where whsitleblowers can raise concerns that also ensures their confidentiality
  •   Designation of a senior individual who has responsibility for the effectiveness of reporting channels
  •   Diligent follow up to the disclosures by the designated person or department in the whistleblowing or Speak Up policy
  •   A reasonable timeframe, not exceeding three months following the disclosure, to provide feedback to the whistleblower