78% of British Nurses Fear Personal Reprisal for Whistleblowing

From the Guardian, May 10, 2009:

A survey of more than 5,000 nurses found 78% feared personal reprisals or a negative effect on their career if they reported concerns to their employers. It also found that 21% had been discouraged or told not to report concerns about what was going on in their workplace.

The confidence of nurses was shaken last month when the Nursing and Midwifery Council, their regulator, struck Margaret Haywood off the professional register for exposing poor care in a film for the BBC programme Panorama. Her attempt to reveal the substandard care experienced by her patients was interpreted as an intrusion into their privacy.

The RCN will respond today by setting up a dedicated line to allow members to talk in confidence about “serious and immediate worries that patient safety is being put at risk in their workplace”.

The union said it would use the information to help the nurses raise concerns and, if needed, to step in swiftly to investigate problems directly with the employers.

The move came as nurses assembled for the RCN’s annual conference in Harrogate. The general secretary, Peter Carter, said the Healthcare Commission last month exposed a scandal of what it described as “appalling” care for patients admitted in an emergency to Stafford hospital.

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