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Changes made to NHS Constitution to enshrine whistleblowing law

Doctors, nurses and other NHS workers who blow the whistle will be protected in the future, under changes to the NHS Constitution announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today.

 

The changes will also make it clear that it is the duty of all NHS workers to report bad practice or any mistreatment of patients receiving care from the health service.

The changes will be enshrined in the NHS Constitution and associated guidelines as soon as possible to encourage more staff to come forward with concerns. This follows the poor care exposed by the Care Quality Commission last week after unannounced inspections of 100 NHS hospitals.

Changes to the constitution, to be made in early 2012, will add:

an expectation that staff should raise concerns at the earliest opportunity;
a pledge that NHS organisations should support staff when raising concerns by ensuring their concerns are fully investigated and that there is someone independent, outside of their team, to speak to; and
clarity around the existing legal right for staff to raise concerns about safety, malpractice or other wrong doing without suffering any detriment.

The changes, which are part of a series of measures intended to promote whistleblowing, follow a public consultation earlier this year in which there was an overwhelmingly positive response to amend the NHS Constitution in this way.

Andrew Lansley said:

The first lines of defence against bad practice are the doctors and nurses doing their best to care for patients. They need to know that they have a responsibility to their patients to raise concerns if they see risks to patient safety. And when they do, they should be reassured that the Government stands full square behind them.

We are determined to root out the problems in the NHS. That is why I requested a series of unannounced hospital inspections by the Care Quality Commission. Its latest reports showed there are long standing problems and we now want to do all we can to tackle them.

For a copy of the consultation report click here.

 
 
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The Operating Theatre Journal, OTJ, is published monthly and distributed to every hospital operating theatre department in the UK. The distribution includes both the National Health Service and the Private Sector.

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