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NHS under reporting whistleblowing by 97%?

How to blow the whistle in the nhs - whistleblowing & risk solutions

Whistleblowing is serious. It isn’t something any organisation can mishandle. The ramifications for doing so are just too dire.

Lucy Letby

The NHS has got it wrong several times before. In our marketing outreach, we are calling businesses that we think will be interested to know that being able to report anonymously is fundamentally critical to making those that know of wrongdoing actually report. Our thinking is, too many British organisations have Whistleblowing systems that aren’t really anonymous (and their staff know it) or are internal mechanisms that any IT employee can trace back to the reporting person.

So it’s more of a box-ticking exercise to implement a sub-par whistleblowing system than a real attempt to ensure compliance and prevent wrongdoing.

And anonymity simply isn’t believed by staff who have to click a link on the organisation’s website, or send an email, or make a phone call.

All of which can be traced – very easily

You may wonder why I say that. Am I just pulling facts out of thin air? Study after study shows that two of the major factors of failing whistleblowing systems (of which the NHS system is one), have common themes of internal reporting and not being truly anonymous. Sort of ‘pseudo’ anonymous systems simply aren’t believed by a workforce. See here for the stats of one such study. You can download our white-paper (it’s a five minute read) to see more evidence from academic papers and government/international agency advice to also back up what I am saying.

But I guess the main point is this. Who are the experts in securing information and then turning it into intelligence? The police maybe, or the military as another possible. These organisations recognise the importance of anonymity and secure systems, because without it no one would give them information that they process to turn it into graded intelligence. Because it is dangerous to give information. And whistleblowing is no different.

The only other possible reason for a lack of whistleblowing reports is this…

NHS staff do not trust the organisation to deal effectively, efficiently and robustly with their reported qualifying disclosures. Why do they not trust the organisation? Probably because of the way the clinicians reporting on Lucy Letby were treated. Or the way they asked for all staff to be fingerprinted to find out who a whistleblower was. And there are more stories…

For the NHS to improve its services it has to embrace an open and transparent culture and shake off the cover up culture. I don’t say that lightly. I say it with evidence to hand that this is what goes on daily in the NHS. I witnessed it first-hand with my own father as a hospital tried to discharge him when he was suffering with a mental health crisis. Just to get his bed back. He has dementia and the care he received was shocking while he was in hospital. His bed inverted so he couldn’t sit up, or get out of it. He was eventually seen (after months) by a psychiatrist who recommended specialist treatment in a facility to help him recover his equilibrium. He is now in a care home specialising in looking after elderly people with dementia.

But the real reason I tell you this story is the cover up that happened after they tried to discharge him from the ward to A and E to show the bed as free. Until we spotted that the day they did it, they had EDR on his chart (Expected date of release). The problem was A and E simply returned him straight back because he didn’t need to go in the first place. Then we were lied to by a social worker working on a cross functional team to explain away his delirium to a water infection. But when we asked the Doctor, he didn’t have a water infection. On and on it went…

Poor care

Nhs under reporting statistic chart - whistleblowing & risk solutions

The NHS staff are working their socks off to simply stay afloat. But the problems I personally experienced would surely dissipate if staff had a way to report such poor care to a central function who could look into matters. Not every case is deserving of examination. But I just cannot see any feasible reason for why an organisation with 1.3 million FTE staff have only had 187 qualifying disclosures in a 12 month period (2022 to 23). By the estimates of other health care providers globally, they should have had 5,700 more.

Why is the NHS under recording whistleblowing matters? If you work in the NHS, why not contact me on linkedin and tell me why you think the reports are so drastically out. I have my own views.

Author Bio.

Andy Parr is a career detective and anti-money laundering expert. He served in the UK, Afghanistan and the Cayman Islands. He welcomes critical thought leadership and commentary to expand his own ability and advance the subject matter. Andy now leads HX5 Encrypted to help organisations get to the groundtruth in their organisation. Andy has led on every type of criminality you can think of. From murder to white collar crime and everything inbetween. Contact him to see how HX5 can help you.

Read all of Andy’s Posts here.