This site is intended for health professionals only

Whistleblowers "not protected"

MPs have said that legislation introduced to protect whistleblowers at work is failing after a nurse was struck off the nursing register for secretly filming neglected patients in a Brighton hospital.

Tony Wright, who helped introduce the Public Interest Disclosure Act, said that it is failing its mission and two high-profile NHS cases have raised doubts over the ability of staff to blow the whistle on problems.

He said that doctors and nurses should be able to speak out about concerns over patient care without risking their careers.

Mr Wright, Labour MP for Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, said: "The whole point of introducing whistleblower provisions was that someone had got somewhere to go so they could raise these concerns quite properly without threatening their job, without damaging their career and indeed without having to go to the media."

He added that the government should "revisit the guidance" but that what is "said in terms of guidance and what happens on the ground is probably very, very different".

The call comes after Margaret Haywood was struck off and the Healthcare Commission published a report into "appalling conditions" at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Wright said: "Nurses could not have been happy working in that situation. Why weren't they jumping up and down?"

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Public Interest Disclosure Act

Related stories:

NHS whistleblowers need safe ways to voice concern, says Unite

Nurse struck off over documentary