Medacs Healthcare

OCT 23/2013

Welsh whistle-blowing policy 'deterring complainants'

A new whistle-blowing policy being used by the Welsh NHS was introduced in July in order to support those who raise concerns about poor care.

However, according to BBC Wales it is not having the desired effect and deters health staff from highlighting problems.

Following comments from Health Minister Mark Drakeford about transparency within the healthcare sector and the encouragement of better communication between departments the All Wales Whistle-blowing Policy was published.

However, the British Medical Association told the broadcaster that it was complicated and confusing, prompting the Welsh government to call for a review of the current policy before the end of March 2014.

Phil Banfield, chair of the British Medical Association's Welsh council, explained to BBC Wales that the policy was more focused on the process of having such a service, than encouraging transparency and openness within the healthcare sector.

He said: "That's a problem for us because it seems to threaten disciplinary action if the process is not followed. It is our experience in different organisations that people who raise concerns fear for their future in the organisation. That is getting worse not better.

"The emphasis on following procedure and being disciplined if procedure is not followed really worries our members."

In order to make the whistle-blowing policy more effective it was highlighted that it would need to be more clearly aimed at specific professions and detail how someone should speak up and what support is available to those who raise concerns.

Following the Francis inquiry there has been a greater emphasis on encouraging healthcare staff to raise any concerns they may have surrounding patient care.

Many NHS organisations and independent healthcare providers publicly back the Speak Out Safely campaign set up by Nursing Times to encourage healthcare providers to develop cultures which are honest and transparent. It also encourages staff to raise the alarm and for them to be protected fully should they do so.

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