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James Bell: NHS whistleblowers ''need safeguards''

By Principal Lawyer, Clinical Negligence

The Health Select Committee is to hold an inquiry into reports that NHS 'whistleblowers' that reveal poor standards of care are damaging their careers by tipping off regulators about their concerns.
The committee has also accused the General Medical Council (GMC) of failing in its job by not stamping out sub-standard practices in the health service.
The committee said: "Some of the decisions made by fitness-to-practise panels of the GMC defy logic and go against the core task of the GMC in maintaining the confidence of its stakeholders. Furthermore, they put the public at risk of poor medical practice."
Could this report have been any more damning to the credibility of the GMC? It will be interesting to see whether they can withstand this level of criticism.
The committee further stated that ….. "Every practising doctor and nurse knows that in addition to their obligation to care for their patients, they have an obligation as professionals to report to their professional body any concerns they have about the quality of care being delivered by their colleagues as a result of what they know or should have known."
"This wider responsibility for the overall quality of care delivered to patients is a part of what it means to be a professional, and we look to the GMC and the NMC [Nursing and Midwifery Council] to ensure that failure to act on it is regarded as a serious breach of professional obligation."
Strong words from the Committee. The politicians are clearly sending a message to the regulators that they have been asleep at the wheel and failed to stop scandals such as those seen at Stafford Hospital. James Bell is a Partner in the Russell Jones & Walker clinical negligence team. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on 0800 916 9049, fill in our short online claim form or email and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.