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Protect statement on Guardian story ‘Staff say hospital bosses misled them in hunt for whistleblower’

A story in today’s Guardian has highlighted how bosses at West Suffolk NHS Hospital demanded fingerprint samples in a bid to identify a whistleblower.

The report says that the hospital – which happens to be Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s local hospital –  used ‘bullying and intimidatory’ tactics towards doctors to seek out the identity of a whistleblower who revealed details of a botched operation to a patient’s widower.

Doctors were asked for fingerprints and handwriting and told non-compliance suggested guilt.

Protect Acting Chief Executive, Liz Gardiner said, “The scandal at West Suffolk hospital demonstrates significant failings in the Trust’s ability to handle whistleblowing concerns. Rather than focusing on the actual concern the whistleblower raised, the Trust has engaged in a witch-hunt to expose the whistleblower. Such actions will undermine staff trust and confidence in West Suffolk Hospital’s speak up arrangements. It is unlawful to subject a whistleblower to any detriment – and, if the reports are correct, senior managers’ actions may well have breached the employment rights of those who were brave enough to speak up.

She added, “Managers who have been found to have sanctioned such actions should face disciplinary action. We urge the Trust Board to urgently review its speak up arrangements and consider training all senior management in appropriate whistleblowing handling. It is imperative all staff in the NHS can speak up about wrongdoing without the fear of their confidentiality being breached.”

This week, a report by the National Guardians Office into Speaking up in the NHS in England highlighted that more than 1 in 10 whistleblowing cases were reported anonymously.