In anticipation of the publication of Robert Francis QC’s report on the Mid Staffordshire public inquiry, the updated constitution and handbook place an enhanced focus on whistle-blowing as a means of creating a culture of patient safety, by including:
- a statement of expectation that staff will raise concerns about malpractice or serious risk at the earliest opportunity in an NHS built on a culture of accountability and openness;
- a pledge that the NHS will support staff who raise concerns in good faith, even where those concerns prove ultimately to be mistaken or based on a misunderstanding;
- clarification of the legal right to protection from detriment for whistleblowing.
The fact that all NHS bodies, private and third sector providers supplying NHS services are under a statutory duty to have regard to the NHS Constitution in performing their NHS functions, can only have increased importance in the newly diversified “post Health and Social Care Act” world.