NHS whistleblower support scheme extended

A SCHEME to provide NHS whistleblowers with practical support is to be rolled out across England following successful pilots.

Any doctor, nurse or other NHS employee whose career suffers after raising concerns about unsafe practice can ask for help from a dedicated support team.

The scheme will offer career coaching, shadowing opportunities, work experience, CV writing advice, interview skills practice and resilience training to both current and former staff members.

The move is part of a package of measures to ramp up support for whistleblowers and boost patient safety.

Evidence shows that health services delivering a higher quality of patient care are more likely to have a positive speaking up culture.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said: “NHS staff raise concerns because they care about our patients, and every member of our workforce – midwife, therapist, cleaner, surgeon or receptionist – who spots and reports poor practice should be supported to help put things right.”

He emphasised the importance of “getting the basics right” and of making it easier for staff to report problems.

The launch of the career support scheme follows two pilot projects started in 2017 which offered targeted support to 16 people who left the health service after they raised concerns about their organisation, with one in three successfully helped to retain or regain employment in the NHS.

Progress in recent years has been supported by Freedom to Speak Up Guardians. These are members of staff in each local part of the health service in England responsible for helping improve openness in reporting problems. Funding for the posts has increased three-fold with Guardians handling more than 19,000 cases.

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, added: “Our staff shouldn’t have to think twice before blowing the whistle on poor practice, but too often nurses, doctors and other important workers worry about the impact on their own career. Helping our world-class workforce to play a leading role in spotting and stopping problems as they arise will make the health service even safer as we deliver the NHS Long Term Plan.”