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Protect response to National Guardian Office report Speaking up in the NHS in England 2018/19

The National Guardian’s Office has published a report analysis of the data from Freedom to Speak Up Guardians to give a picture of what speaking up looks like in NHS trusts.

The report,  Speaking up in the NHS in England, reveals over the last year cases of speaking up to guardians have risen by 73 per cent, compared to 2017/18. However, the report also reveals that while low, the number of workers who indicated they were suffering detriment as a result of speaking up has remained static at five per cent. The National Guardian has said she’s disappointed in the “general and vague” responses on the action trusts are taken when detriment is reported.

Protect Acting Chief Executive, Liz Gardiner, said, “While there is much to celebrate in this report, the percentage of those reporting that they fear detriment has not changed. The NHS is not alone is speaking the right words but taking little action on detriment. We know from our advice line how prevalent victimisation of whistleblowers is – too many who raise concerns are bullied, sidelined or even forced out of their jobs.

“We’re also aware – from our training of employers across all sectors – that few organisations will discipline those responsible for treating whistleblowers badly. Staff receive a poor message about whistleblowing if they see their colleagues suffering and a reluctance by the employer to stop the bullying or victimisation.”

Of the callers to Protect’s advice line between January – December 2019, a total of 53.8% of health sector workers reported some form of negative treatment as a result of raising their concerns. The data showed of these calls 41.5% of cases were in relation to patient safety, and 20.4% over working practices.

Liz Gardiner said “Protect is campaigning to change the law to improve protections for whistleblowers, with a positive duty on employers to protect those who speak up from harm as well as fines and sanctions for employers who allow detriment to happen.  In the meantime, we’re pleased to see the National Guardian’s plans to work with Freedom to Speak Up Guardians and the Care Quality Commission to tackle the problem.”