Guest Opinion - Whistle-blowers are not untrustworthy

The much anticipated report into Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, to be published early in 2013, is expected to raise issues of responsiveness to patient and staff concerns, and to identify failures in the application of whistle-blowing policies.

The RCGP has produced a statement on its own position on NHS whistle-blowing.

I hope Mid Staffs will bring about an environment in which NHS health professionals can raise concerns without fear of recrimination, that those complained about will be treated fairly and that concerns will be properly and thoroughly investigated.

As GPs, we have a duty to provide the best care to patients, so we have a duty to raise any issue we are aware of. But we also have a duty to protect staff and those who raise concerns must not be vilified.

Too often whistle-blowers are wrongly called untrustworthy tale-tellers and this has to stop.

The RCGP statement defines 'to raise a concern' as doing so through the normal internal structures of accountability, and 'to blow the whistle' as highlighting a concern to individuals outside these structures, often externally and after failing to raise the issue successfully through internal routes.

We hope it will help people to see the raising of a concern or complaint as a useful tool for continued improvement, rather than a negative occurrence. We also want to improve transparency and equip our members with best-practice principles and policy relating to raising concerns and whistle-blowing in their working environment.

The arrival of CCGs brings with it new leadership and governance roles for GPs, and greater responsibility to respond when concerns are raised.

As GPs, we are not immune to complaints, but we need to learn from them and use them proactively to improve the care and services we provide. We need measures to ensure that GPs feel confident about their rights and responsibilities when these situations arise.

It is likely that we will increasingly become the port of call for patients and health professionals who have concerns about the NHS.

It is important that our members can turn to us for guidance and that we can play our part in preventing another Mid Staffs.

  • Professor Gerada is a GP in London.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in


Just published

Young doctor

BMA poll could see 'demeaning' junior doctor title ditched

The BMA could drop the term 'junior doctor' in favour of 'resident doctor' to better...

Houses of parliament

Tory peer calls PA fears 'Luddism' and claims most GP visits 'incredibly straightforward'

Most GP appointments are 'incredibly straightforward' and fears over a wider role...

UK money

NHS pension contribution overhaul to go ahead from April

Changes to NHS pension contribution rates, which will see the top earners required...

BMA sign

BMA warns £800m lost from GP contract since 2019 as last-ditch talks continue

BMA negotiators remain in talks over an improved GP contract offer for 2024/25 just...

GP consultation

GPs still under pressure to prescribe black triangle drug inclisiran

GPs are continuing to face pressure to prescribe the black triangle drug inclisiran...

BMA chair Professor Phil Banfield

Lords urged to block legislation for GMC to regulate PAs

The BMA has urged peers to block legislation that would make the GMC responsible...