'Fear and intimidation' in NHS

The Royal College of Nursing says nearly a quarter of nurses have been warned off raising concerns about patient care in the NHS - in spite of the Stafford Hospital scandal.

Student nurses 'not protected' by whistleblowing laws

Student nurses are not protected if they raise concerns about patient care
Student nurses are not protected if they raise concerns about patient care Credit: ITV News

The Royal College of Nursing is calling on the government to extend whistleblowing legislation to student nurses.

The union claims that the current Public Interest Disclosure Act doesn't cover training nurses who raise concerns about patient care.

The government said it would consider the proposal, as it seeks to implement some of the recommendations made in the public inquiry into the poor standards of care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

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Hundreds of nurses 'unclear' over whistleblowing policy

According to the survey by the Royal College of Nursing:

  • A third of nurses questioned said they didn't know whether their organisation had a whistle blowing policy
  • Of the 64% who had raised concerns, nearly one in ten said they had raised concerns as little as a week ago
  • Nearly half of the concerns raised were about staffing levels
  • 21% were about patient safety
  • 45% of nurses who had raised concerns said their employer took no action

Nurses still 'fear repercussions' over whistleblowing

One of the key recommendations made by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust public inquiry chair, Robert Francis QC, was that concerns and complaints should be able to be raised "freely without fear".

These responses illustrate that despite the recent attention which has been drawn to the importance of whistle blowing, many nurses are still experiencing a culture of fear and intimidation if they try to speak out.

This is putting patient safety at risk. One of the key lessons from the Francis report was that frontline staff must feel confident that they can raise concerns about patient safety without fear of reprisals.

Nursing staff want to provide excellent care, but sometimes the systems they work in do not allow this. Staff know what is safe for their patients and what is not.

However, they cannot raise concerns if they feel unsure about what their employer's policy is or what the repercussions will be.

– Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN

Culture of 'fear and intimidation' over NHS patient care

The Royal College of Nursing says a quarter of nurses have been discouraged about blowing the whistle on concerns over patient care, in spite of the Stafford Hospital scandal. A survey found 24% of nurses said they had been warned off raising concerns.

The RCN claims patient safety is being put at risk
The RCN claims patient safety is being put at risk Credit: Press Association

The nursing union says the figures reveal a "culture of fear and intimidation" at work.

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