The Freedom to Speak Up Review, due to be published today, 11 February 2015, has found that NHS whistleblowers are often not listened to. Sir Robert Francis QC, who chairs The Review, has told the BBC that a "significant proportion" of health workers were afraid to speak up about failings in patient care within the NHS.
The Freedom to Speak Up Review was set up last year by the Secretary of State for Health to conduct an independent review into creating an open and honest reporting culture within the NHS. The Review gathered information from both people who work in the NHS and those who have made complaints about NHS treatment and their experiences.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC in advance of the publication of the report, Sir Francis said that his review team had heard "shocking" stories about staff who raised concerns of being ignored, bullied or intimidated. A "significant proportion" of NHS workers are not prepared to raise concerns about the NHS. This was because they either considered that nothing would be done or, more worryingly, because they were afraid of the potential consequences.
Sir Francis said: "Time and time again people say to me they either want to complain about the behaviour of others towards them or, when they do raise a concern about the working environment or the way patients are being treated, the reaction to them has been one of being bullied."
In January 2015, the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team highlighted the findings of The Commons Health Select Committee whose report described the way that the NHS treats whistleblowers as "a stain on the reputation of the NHS, leading to unwarranted, inexcusable pain for the courageous individuals affected." Click here to read the article in full.
The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has commented that there had been "significant changes" to make the NHS more transparent and open.
Camilla Wonnacott, associate in the clinical negligence team, said: "The work of the Freedom to Speak Up Review is a real step in the right direction. It is vitally important that the culture within the NHS changes so that staff and patients can raise concerns about failings in patient care.”