Hospital Dr News

New phone hotline for NHS whistleblowers

NHS and social care staff who have concerns about patient care will be able to access a new, free whistleblowing helpline from the 1 January, the health secretary has said.

The government-funded helpline will be available to staff and employers in the social care sector, as well as the NHS, via a now-free phone service.

This is in addition to the introduction of a contractual duty to raise concerns, which will be enshrined in the new NHS Constitution.

The new helpline number will be 08000 724 725. Provided by the Royal Mencap Society, the service will operate weekdays between 08.00-18.00, and an out of hours answering service will be available weekends and public holidays.

Andrew Lansley said: “Staff on the frontline know when patient services need to improve. That’s why staff who blow the whistle are crucial in helping to raise standards, and we’re determined to support them.

“Making it easier for staff to challenge the institutional power of organisations is a key factor in preventing, identifying and tackling pockets of culturally poor practice. That’s why we’ve created a helpline service for concerned staff…this will play an important role in creating a culture where staff will be able to raise genuine concerns in good faith, without fear of reprisal.”

But whistleblowers’ lobby group Patients First said the government shouldn’t be looking for an external solution and should ensure that the internal whistleblowing processes already in existence within NHS trusts should be made to work.

A similar web-based whistleblowing service is also being developed, with further details to be announced in due course.

Bookmark and Share

3 Responses to “New phone hotline for NHS whistleblowers”

  1. Dr David Drew says:

    This kind of gimmick will not help. Its like putting a band aid on a gaping wound. The SoS and DH seem incapable of getting to grips with this problem. Hopefully Robert Francis’s Report on the Mid Staffs Public Inquiry will concentrate politicians minds. Hundreds (the exact figure is not known) of people died avoidable deaths at Stafford DGH. Medical and Nursing Staff and others watched that happen. The CEO claimed the stats were wrong. Information was deliberately concealed from the relatives and HM Coroner.

    Only one brave soul, a nurse called Helene Donnelley, blew the whistle reporting on the appalling care she witnessed on 50 occasions. The RCN rep. who should have helped her as a whistleblower made things worse. Helene was bullied by other staff and was sometimes too afraid to walk to her car in the dark. One consultant cross examined at the PI had seen many patients put at risk and had reported it up through the orgainisation but again got no action. When asked by CuretheNHS Counsel why he had not blown the whistle he replied, “Because I’ve got a mortgage to pay.” The fear of detriment either to career, reputation or finances is sufficient in these situations to silence most professionals.”

    There is little likelihood therefore that having a (free!) phone number will help. As advocated elsewhere what is needed is an organisational Duty of Candour which makes Trust senior management accountable to the DH through a genuinely independent reporting body. No healthcare professional should be punished as has so frequently happened in the past for reporting what it is their duty to report. Where concerns turn out to be unfounded, unless made maliciously or mischievously which must be very rare, no action should be taken against the Whistleblower. Where concerns are upheld I suggest the CEO should personally present the whistleblower with an award at a public ceremony!

  2. Malcolm Morrison says:

    Well said, David Drew!

    The problem is not the whistleblower; it is those who do not, or WILL NOT hear the whistle! Free phone calls will not help; maybe all CEOs should be given ‘free’ hearing aids!

  3. houndy says:

    Believe me that penalising whistleblowers is not confined to NHS staff.

    I was a staff nurse working in a private care home caring for elderly people who had dementia and challenging behaviour. I had reported my concerns when I witnessed terrible practice by a colleague. I was suspended and subsequently sacked as they said I had not filled in 1 accident form and I had taken 4 days to report my concerns. In truth, I had been regularly bringing concerns to their attention and I know they viewed me as a “troublemaker’ but my concerns were genuine and could be evidenced. Now I am out of a job but I would do the same thing again as I can live with myself but can they?

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation