08 February 2013
Employment Lawyer responds to NHS Mid-Staffs Public Inquiry
The report justifiably makes patients the central focus and signifies a serious need for a cultural shift towards openness, a shared level of professional standards and a need to improve.
It should be an essential element of the reforms that NHS staff with concerns feel safe to raise them.
As Employment Solicitors our experience is that in the NHS (as in all industries), being a whistle-blower is a lonely place, as raising concerns can have implications for colleagues. Indeed, we regularly see management viewing the whistle-blower as the problem, not the concern they raise.
Employment law protections should be the last resort, a fall-back position in the event that the working culture penalises those members of staff who raise concerns. Weakening employment law protections, as the Government proposes in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, is not sensible.
Though the legal framework has a part to play, the solution should lie in the established protection for those employees who are victimised. There must be a culture shift, a change to one of organisational transparency and learning, and not always retribution.
Edward Cooper is an Employment Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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