It is important that no tolerance is afforded to oppressive managerial behaviour. Victimisation of staff who raise honest concerns…cannot be tolerated. There is much to do in this area before staff feel safe.
Sir Robert Francis QC, February 2014
Chair of the Inquiry into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust & of the Review into NHS Whistleblowing (www.freedomtospeakup.org.uk)
Repeatedly we hear of unaccountable managers protecting themselves and undertaking biased investigations, character assassination, lengthy suspensions, disciplinary hearings which resemble kangaroo courts, and ultimately dismissal of staff who previously had exemplary work records.
Sir Robert Francis QC, February 2015 (NHS Whistleblowing Report)
Welcome to this website which is dedicated to creating a fairer, more open and safer UK National Health Service, and to bringing about fundamental changes in its culture. It is also dedicated to providing a scientific, evidence-based foundation to the discussion of many of the key issues involved.
When you fall ill, you will want the best treatment for yourself and your loved ones. Having that treatment depends on having an NHS that is well resourced and well run. The most important resource for the NHS is its staff – high quality staff who are dedicated and happy in their workplace.
The mid-Staffs Francis Report and the Berwick Report into the NHS dealt primarily with patient safety and patient well-being. The mirror and complement of this is staff safety and staff well-being, which is closely linked to patient care, yet there have been no reports into how NHS staff are treated. Both reports talked about criminal action and corporate manslaughter if patients are harmed, and similar consideration should be given if staff suffer distress or death as a result of negligence or deliberate actions by managers in the NHS or clinicians in management roles. Compassion should equally apply to NHS staff as well as to NHS patients. Compassion is not only about dealing with distress and suffering, but doing things to prevent it occurring in the future. The NHS needs to show leadership in taking actions to learn from mistakes, whether in clinical or management domains, and in applying science to help learn from such mistakes.
The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, has called for an approach that incorporates ‘a little less Stalin, and a little more Gandhi’. Current NHS policies and procedures still allow for Stalinist ‘show trials’ and ‘kangarooo courts’ in NHS disciplinary hearings to continue to take place, as they have done in the past, and such a situation cannot be tolerated in a democracy in the 21st century.
As the Bristol heart scandal and the Mid-Staffordshire hospital scandal have shown, there sadly are instances where staff feel victimised and demoralised, often as a result of a top-down management culture that is dictatorial and secretive, and which devalues excellence in patient care. Some victimised and demoralised NHS staff have ended up contemplating suicide.
We are working towards an NHS that treats its staff fairly and justly, that cherishes and rewards clinical excellence, that takes into account scientific evidence in its policies and procedures, that has compassion at the heart of everything it does, that actively supports staff who raise concerns about patient care, and that is much more open and transparent than at present.