Over 100 primary care staff rang whistleblowing line in first year

Primary care staff have made 125 calls to a CQC whistleblowing phone line since practices registered with the watchdog in April 2013, official data show.

CQC chief executive David Behan: reliance on whistleblowers not enough
CQC chief executive David Behan: reliance on whistleblowers not enough

A total of 117 calls from primary care staff about problems with their colleagues or organisation came in the first full year since practices registered with the CQC, and a further eight calls have been recorded since then.

The watchdog said there had been ‘an increasing number of whistleblowing calls’ to the helpline throughout its first year in operation.

A spokesman said: ‘One reason for this gradual rise in numbers could be due to the increased exposure of the CQC and its job as regulator of the sector since April last year and the increased press interest since October.’

This week at the annual NICE conference, CQC chief executive Professor David Behan revealed that the organisation's whistleblowing line receives around 8,000 calls a year from across the NHS.

NHS has 'failed to listen to concerns'

He said: ‘We’re still getting stories from whistleblowers - my own inbox is full of stories from people and our dedicated whistleblowing line gets 8,000 calls a year. This is a lot, but they’re not all whistleblowers, we then have to sift out for that and triage those.’

But he said the NHS needed to build a community where reporting problems was normal, transparent and incentivised, and that reliance on whistleblowing was ineffective.

He pointed to the aviation and nuclear industries as model examples of ‘safe’ business systems, which ‘rewarded’ staff for reporting problems.

‘We need to get employees to report in the interest of the safety of the business. That’s a challenge for us, I think. We need to develop a culture where reporting is incentivised, not necessarily so we have to go to whistleblowing extremes every time, but the culture is one where concerns can be raised.’

He added: ‘I think whistleblowing is an artefact of an organisation that failed to listen to concerns.’

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