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Treatment of NHS Whistleblowers Remains a Problem

A report by the Health Select Committee has called for the treatment of whistleblowers in the NHS to be improved.

It specifically criticised the current position and called for people who have been vindicated to receive an apology and practical redress.

This might all come as somewhat as a surprise to the general public since after the numerous problems which have hit the headlines in recent years, you might perhaps be forgiven for thinking that a culture of transparency would finally be starting to take hold.

To be fair, HM Government has acknowledged the need for candour and in fact the standard NHS contract for commissioning services post-April 2013 (though not for primary care providers) has included a contractual duty of candour.

What’s more, a statutory duty of candour was introduced for certain specified NHS bodies under Regulation 20 of The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 last year and the Scottish Government has also just consulted on a duty of candour for the NHS in Scotland.

But nevertheless the proposal from the report that whistleblowers who are vindicated should receive an apology and practical redress would seem to be another important step in the road towards a more open and transparent NHS and it is hoped that it might be implemented without delay.

The Health Select Committee report also examined the system of complaint handling and recommended that it be made less complex and with improved arrangements for support as well.

This is a crucial time in the history of the NHS and one of the most important aspects of all will be how both the institutions and the individuals within that organisation react to all of the various reforms which are being introduced.

Specifically, it is to be hoped that they will embrace these changes and really help the NHS to move towards a truly transparent and open system. It is this kind of fresh start which is needed if patients are to regain trust in our national system of healthcare provision.

For more details see the Health Select Committee Report.

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