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New measures to support whistleblowers in primary care

NHS England is today confirming the steps it is taking to make it easier for primary care staff to raise their concerns so that action can be taken and improvements made.

New whistleblowing guidance has been drawn up following a five-week consultation with staff working in primary care.  The guidance comes after Sir Robert Francis recommended that the principles outlined in his Freedom to Speak Up report be adapted for primary care, where smaller work settings can present challenges around anonymity and conflicts with employers.

In April this year, NHS England became a ‘prescribed person‘, meaning primary care service staff working at GP surgeries, opticians, pharmacies and dental practices, can raise concerns about inappropriate activity directly to NHS England.

At the same time, NHS England also launched the consultation on new whistleblowing proposals for primary care. Submissions helped strengthen the proposals and as a result key measures in the new guidance include:

  • Each NHS primary care provider should name an individual, who is independent of the line management chain and is not the direct employer, as the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. They can raise awareness of how staff can share a concern and offer support to staff who do so.
  • NHS primary care providers should be proactive in preventing any inappropriate behaviour, like bullying or harassment, or discrimination towards staff who raise a concern.
  • All NHS primary care providers should review and update their local policies and procedures by September 2017, to align with the new guidance.

Neil Churchill, NHS England Director for Patient Experience, said: “Safety in primary care depends on listening to, and acting on, concerns raised. This new guidance will help ensure that if someone witnesses a risk to patient safety, they can speak out without reprisal and confident that effective action will be taken.

“A safe NHS is an open and honest NHS where we routinely learn from mistakes and use that learning to improve patient safety.”

For more details please visit our whistleblowing section.

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10 comments

  1. Bridget says:

    Publication date is November 2017 rather than November 2016!

  2. I am interested in becoming a prescribed person,and would like more details if any on he position. I do not work for the NHS.

  3. Paul Conyers says:

    Patient safety should be the highest and most critical responsibility, but if a secretive culture hides the most basic flaws, then no form of guidance will ensure ‘a safe, open and honest NHS’ can exist.

    • kevin riley says:

      NHS England continues to conceal the reality that it has no power whatsoever over how health services are delivered at the sharp end of service delivery.

      The above as a result of the removal of the NHS from Democratic control by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
      NHS England can only advise and or recommend but has no power whatsoever to force the now independent NHS Foundation Trusts to accept that advice or recommendation.

  4. “they can speak out without reprisal and confident that effective action will be taken”.
    This statement by Neil Churchill is false – NHS England has no way of ensuring either that the whistle blower will not face reprisals – such as, for example being in effect black listed from future promotion – nor can NHS England ensure that effective action is taken by the “independent” NHS Trust concerned as a result of the removal of all NHS Foundation Trusts from democratic control by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

    NHS England can only “advise and or recommend” but can do nothing to force the now “free from democratic contro”l NHS Foundation Trusts to accept that advice or follow that recommendation..
    Kevin S. Riley Solicitor

  5. RON says:

    Could someone help me how to make
    a complaint against health care abuse
    and bad care practice

  6. Chris Reid says:

    How many more guides are you going to issue, Many people simply don’t trust you. How many people have somehow been squeezed out of their job, NHS England has been caught out persuading people to avoid questions and hide the truth.

    • kevin riley says:

      NHS England continues to conceal the reality that it has no power whatsoever over how health services are delivered at the sharp end of service delivery.

      The above as a result of the removal of the NHS from Democratic control by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
      NHS England can only advise and or recommend but has no power whatsoever to force the now independent NHS Foundation Trusts to accept that advice or recommendation.