We must listen to whistleblowers – Simon Stevens

NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens today responded to the Francis report on whistleblowing.

In the report entitled ‘Freedom To Speak Up?’ Sir Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire, recommends:

  • A “Freedom to Speak Up Guardian” to be appointed in every NHS trust to support staff, particularly junior members.
  • A national independent officer to help guardians when cases are going wrong.
  • A new support scheme to help NHS staff who have found themselves out of a job as a result of raising concerns.
  • Processes established at all trusts to make sure concerns are heard and investigated properly

Simon Stevens responded, saying: “As a nation we can rightly be proud of the fact that NHS care is now the safest it has ever been. But as I’ve sat down and listened hard to whistleblowers over the past year, it’s blindingly obvious that the NHS has been missing a huge opportunity to learn and improve the care we offer to patients and the way we treat our staff.

“These important proposals – particularly for a new national office of the whistleblower – will provide clear new safeguards and signal a decisive change in culture in every part of the health service.”


  1. Doctor says:

    As a junior doctor who blew the whistle on massive and repeated patient safety issues in two departments,I know from personal experience the aftermath . Unfortunately, the two consultants also happen to be responsible for progression and despite an unblemished clinical record, a concerted effort, (including blatant lying which can be independently verified) , is being made to penalize me and block progress. I am not alone, it seems in paying a very high price for trying to improve appalling patient safety transgressions.

    Until, there is an independent oversight , outside of the hospitals concerned , this travesty will go on to the detriment of both patients and staff.

  2. Annon says:

    When will the NHS look at the service IT departments provide and stop throwing money at IT as this will not solve the problems.

    Centralising IT support, streamlining and centralising systems and applications. Having the right people in the right positions with the right skills. Too many mangers in IT not knowing how to manage or support trusts.

    There is room for improvement but I would suggest a team of experts to work together and look at the service improvements required for IT. It’s heavily funded and the budgets are very generous when nurses could benefit more with the monies being wasted. I would happily be part of this group to drive IT to work smarter across the trusts. It would also be key for a Comms team to be centralised to manage these changes.

  3. None says:

    It NHS policy to abide by your E-Roster.

    I reported for work as my E-Roster stated.
    I was then told off by my boss as the paper copy was different the E-Roster.

    My boss is the one who gives staff there E-Roster and the one who writes the paper copies that staff use. So this person is clearly at fault.

    Yet my boss seams to think it is my fault and wants to tell me off.
    I think that my boss is clearly a bully and is just doing this make me look bad
    and make sure they look like a good person.

    My boss is at fault, so why should I be told off by them for abiding by NHS policy.

    I have a good mind to speak to my Union about this.

  4. Jo says:

    The CCGs are not prescribed persons to whom a protected disclosure can be made. This was suggested in the report and would be a good way forward

  5. Susan says:

    I worked for Weston NHS for 17 years, I reported my manager for bullying and it was not taken serious, I sent emails and all I got from HR was, was I sure as I could be sacked if this was proven to be wrong.
    My new manager stepped in 6 months later and asked HR why it was taken so long. Nothing was done about it and although I was called names by HR also, a minion was one of them.
    I was sacked last year by something they made up due to me going off with stress. This is what happens every where you go in the NHS it is a joke.

  6. Jenny Hughes says:

    Errm, employed by government/NHS and working WITHIN the Trust = independent and a safeguard? Like PALS were supposed to be? Just a different name job title? It didn’t work then, still doesn’t, why create new post so similar that will be under SAME pressures as docs, nurses and management? Am totally puzzled, am I not understanding something here? Am I confused about what independence is? I have a brain injury.

    Please can somebody tell us the amount of money paid to every type of NHS whistleblowers to stay at home and not work:
    a) in 2014
    b) in 2013
    c) in the last 5 years
    d) in the last 10 years
    – We need to know and how this can be justified = by whom.

  7. Esther Guy says:

    I am a registered nurse with 42 years of nursing experience gained in a variety of settings, and I have raised concerns on many occasions and subsequently whistleblew on three occasions.
    I was isolated and I have paid the price for whistleblowing and now i have decided to retire, because I found it difficult to find a job.
    One matron gave me a poor reference which led to the withdrawal of the job offer. I have since lost my confidence and impacted on my well being, therefore I am selling my property and retiring.
    The entire managerial system needs to be investigated as thye cover up constantly.

    • Esther Guy says:

      I have now cancelled my registration, and feel relieved that I no longer have to witness poor standards of care, constant cover up by managers when complaints are made by patients and relatives, and I no longer have to challenge poor practice and incompetence by some of my nursing colleagues. For some of them, the truth is no longer an issue.
      I trained at the right time in 1972, when nursing was a vocation, and we had hands on experience whilst being trained. I say “bring back the old fashioned matron”. Nurses need someone who is competent, skilled and not afraid to challenge her nurses, and that means acting in the patient’s best interest at all times. I have retired with my dignity and integrity intact. That is everything to me.

  8. jayne says:

    Brilliant. I work in Western Australia this is an excellent initiative.

  9. Jodi Brown says:

    This is all great to hear. How will this link up with whistleblowing around non-safety concerns e.g. fraud, corruption, abuse of power, bribery, other significant concerns? Not directly related to safety, but will undoubtedly have an indirect effect somewhere down the line. I was a WB and did not feel my concerns were taken seriously. So much so, that I felt obliged to take it to an independent organisation. I hope these new Guardians will be trained and developed to be able to receive and support all cases.

    • Anonymous says:

      please tell me whom you took your concerns to. There seems to be no one who is willing to listen and abuse of power carries on relentlessly.

  10. Carol says:

    Do not underestimate the distance between national policy and local implementation. Unless the ‘Freedom to Speak Guardians’ are held outside the organisations, they too will be absorbed into a culture which is self protective and where bullying and harassment is part of the course.

    Making a complaint against an NHS organisation is professional suicide for an employee unless you have sufficient political cover to have your back.

    My advice….keep the exit strategy door open, trying to explain the ‘whistle-blowing’ hiatus on your CV will be challenging.

  11. Jackie Henderson says:

    i worked for the nhs as a auxiliary nurse for nearly 5 years and because of the way i was treated i had to leave with severe depression, so much so that i wanted to commit suicide. The manager was bad at her job, so when the hospital in question went into special measures i went to the cqc and told them everything, i am now an agency healthcare assistant. working in different hospitals, in the Kent area.
    I have worked with another nurse recently in the same agency as me and she was telling me that she worked in the same hospital as i did, but for over 28 years, she told me that she was bullied out of her job by yet another bullying ward manager.
    The NHS have a lot to answer for. many of my friends still work in that hospital and are not happy.
    i hope that these issues can be ironed out because the nhs needs good workers like myself.
    jackie henderson

    • sylvia says:

      Well said,
      unfortunatly what you have spoken about is happening in a lot of places,but the awnser is not what has been suggested but is a start in the right direction.

    • Anonymous says:

      Im feeling the same I have fighted this for two years but as im a single parent with mortgage I can not there anyone to help me im in union but their hands get tied too

  12. Angela Gillon says:

    Whistleblowing: Excellent news. It’s about time the culture of fear of speaking up ends. And the culture of offering an opinion being viewed as ‘being obstructive’ and causing problems.

    • Sapphire29 says:

      My daughter was bullied by a manager, who was well known throughout the hospital for her bullying tactics; in fact, when anybody applied for a job, they were warned not to apply for a job in her particular department. My daughter reported it to the hospital hierarchy, ie Chief Executive, Human Resources, Union with countless letters and personal pleas to stop this woman. Not one of them would take this manager on and confront her, despite evidence supporting my daughter. Many of the other staff were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs, as this woman managed to “dispose” of five other members of staff at the same time as she was bullying my daughter. After about a year of sustained bullying and harassment, my daughter left the hospital.

      This manager is now Head of Surgical Services, so it seems bullying pays off!! I think bullies like this woman should be called to account for themselves and there should be somewhere that the bullied can be heard and protected. Unfortunately, it seems to be “yes, we are doing something about bullying” but in fact these are just idle words, and the NHS grinds on with no protection for the people who are bullied and have nowhere to go.

      I cannot give my name as my younger daughter works in the NHS.