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Whistleblowing charity, Protect, advises BBC Casualty on whistleblowing storyline. 

The whistleblowing charity, Protect, is proud to have supported BBC Casualty in understanding the practicalities of whistleblowing law for its most recent storyline “Breaking Point”.

The multi-episode storyline features a controversial documentary exposé including secretly recorded footage and an internal witch hunt for the whistleblower responsible.

As the UK’s leading whistleblowing charity, with more than thirty years experience providing free legal advice to whistleblowers, Protect is regularly approached by the media, screenwriters and production teams to provide input into their programmes ensuring their work reflects reality.

In BBC Casualty’s dramatic scenes junior doctor Rash is accused of being a whistleblower – which he vehemently denies. The real whistleblower, staff nurse Rida, sees Rash is acting overwhelmed and under pressure and confides in him. In a bid to protect Rida and save her from disciplinary action Rash tells everyone he is the whistleblower and resigns. When Rida finds out she confesses all. But when she’s then threatened with suspension, all the department’s staff stand up one by one and confess to being the whistleblower in an act of solidarity (in a scene reminiscent of the iconic I Spartacus).

Andrew Pepper-Parson, Director of Policy and Communications at Protect says:

“Whistleblowing in the NHS is well documented, and we’ve seen numerous scandals impacting patient care over the past twenty years. From the Mid Staffs scandal to the more recent events at the Countess of Chester Hospital where babies were murdered and harmed by a nurse, NHS whistleblowing can be a matter of life and death. In all these cases, it becomes clear that someone working inside the organisation knew that something was wrong, but were too frightened to speak up, spoke up to the wrong person, or were simply ignored. We were able to direct the BBC Casualty writers to create a storyline that had the dramatic impact they wanted while staying true to life and within the realms of the whistleblowing legal framework.”

The storyline was spread across six episodes and the identity of the whistleblower was a closely guarded secret, with the actor only learning of their involvement as they went to film the reveal scenes.

In meetings and ongoing correspondence with the BBC Casualty programme team the charity was able to hone and refine their ideas explaining how whistleblowing law works and using specific case studies and situations from the charity’s free legal Advice Line.

Protect’s data from 2023 shows that three quarters of whistleblowers (73%), out of the more than three thousand calls the charity took last year, said they faced victimisation or felt forced to resign after raising their whistleblowing concerns.

Andrew Pepper-Parson, Director of Policy and Communications at Protect says:

“We know from our 30 years of experience talking to whistleblowers everyday how scary it can be to actually blow the whistle. From the fear of speaking up to senior managers and calling out suspected wrongdoing, to the worry over what this mean for your future job and future career, whistleblowing is an intensely stressful experience. In these Casualty episodes we were able to present a series of events that we regularly hear about from the whistleblowers we support. While this was fictional story, much of the content was based on fact, amalgamated from stories we hear from whistleblowers on the front line.

It is not always reassuring, or encouraging, to see how concerns are managed in the NHS. For every success story, there are many brave healthcare workers who never get justice they seek. However, by collaborating with the BBC on this storyline arc we hope that if even just one whistleblower can see and understand they are not alone, that they have never been alone, then that will be worthwhile.”

Notes to editors:   

For more information, and to arrange an interview, please contact:  

Mark Ellis, Head of Commmunications 

0203 117 2520 ex. 1038 

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