Measures to protect NHS whistleblowers have been backed by Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd.
It has been announced that all NHS Trusts in England will have to appoint a “guardian” to assist and protect whistleblowers in the trust.
The measure was called for by Sir Robert Francis after he warned staff too often faced “bullying and being isolated” when they tried to speak out.
The government has accepted the recommendations and the Health Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt MP has announced that he agreed with the proposals in principle, and would now consult on how best to implement them.
Stephen Lloyd MP said, “I am pleased the coalition government has accepted all of Sir Robert’s recommendation from his Freedom to Speak Up Review. Consequently I will be writing to our own NHS Trust to ask them to outline measures they will be putting in place to implement the recommendations when they become a statutory obligation.
“I have had numerous calls, emails and letters from staff over the last 18 months expressing fears that there is a bullying culture in some parts of the Trust and while this has always been denied by the management, I feel it is imperative that steps are taken immediately to assuage people fears and reassure local residents.
“The NHS employees who have contacted me in Eastbourne sought reassurance, which I am always happy to give, to keep their names and details confidential through their fear, justified or otherwise, of the possible consequences of going public. These new protections when they are implemented will, I hope, go some way to allaying the fears of NHS employees.”
However, chief executive of the East Sussex NHS Trust, Darren Grayson, said, “We welcome the Sir Robert Francis’s report and the announcement by the Secretary of State.
“We strive to have an open and honest culture in the trust so staff are confident to raise concerns and we take any concern in relation to bullying and harassment, including intimidation very seriously.
“We have a number of policies in place for staff to use when they have concerns of this type which we will review in line with the recommendations made in the report. In addition should a member of staff be concerned about confidentiality they have the opportunity to raise their concerns with our Senior Independent Board Director. However we don’t just rely on these more formal routes, board members visit services and talk to staff regularly.
“Staff frequently raise concerns directly with us and we will always act on these particularly where they relate to concerns about patient safety.
“Unfortunately, although Mr Lloyd has repeatedly said he has heard concerns from our staff he has not yet informed us about the nature of these concerns and has therefore deprived us of the opportunity to act on them.
“We therefore urge him, once again, to raise any concerns he has about the safety of the trust’s services directly with us whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the staff raising them.”