Why NHS Whistleblowing is Important
Healthcare is an essential industry of the world, it protects us and keeps us safe. Especially in the UK with National Health Service (NHS). Unfortunately; not everyone in this industry, much like every other sector, can be trusted with patient safety. This is why whistle-blowing is such an important piece of our democracy – it allows for the safety of workers and patients, ethical practice and clearness within healthcare. Whistle-blowing is the act of informing a person or organisation regarded as engaging in unlawful or immoral activity, this could be a toxic workplace, embezzlement, sexual misconduct etc. Within the NHS, whistle-blowing is crucial for multiple reasons:
- Patient safety: Above all else, patient safety is a key priority within healthcare, whistle-blowing can help to report acts and practices that can create an unsafe environment for patients.
- Fraud: Whistle-blowing is essential in preventing and ending healthcare fraud and misconduct, examples of this could be billing under false pretences or unneeded medical procedures such as surgeries among other things. If left to continue, this fraud and misconduct could potentially lead to large financial losses for both patients and hospitals.
- Accountability and compliance: Whistle-blowing can encourage institutions to be more transparent with their customers and officials, as well as helping to ensure compliance with healthcare regulations. By giving employees the power to report wrong doings, it can create a more sustainable work culture and lead to investigations that hold those who are doing wrong to account.
- Improvements: The act of whistle-blowing can lead to investigations and reforms, bringing about systematic change and improvements within the healthcare sector – this can benefit both patients and employees as things such as patient safety will be at the top of the priority list whilst killing off toxic workplace environments.
- Quality of care: When the whistle is blown on healthcare providers who are not sticking to regulations and laws about the quality of patient care, in turn compromising it; it can bring these issues to light and lead to them being addressed, in turn improving the quality described above and increasing accountability.
- Ethics: Healthcare employees may find themselves in a situation where they have seen or heard about patient confidentiality being broken or similar unethical situations in which the quality of patient care is not where it needs to be, whistle-blowing can can serve as a mechanism to expose this misconduct and help to uphold the principles of medical ethics.
- Public Trust: A transparent and honest healthcare system is one that gain public trust, encouraging and supporting both the act of whistle-blowing and the whistle-blowers in the public eye, accompanied by them seeing that the NHS takes complaints seriously and addresses them. helps to reinforce the idea that patient well-being is a top priority.
- Early Detection of Outbreaks: When Covid-19 hit the United Kingdom it was discovered that the NHS had a plan for pandemics that had been scrapped by the government, in this situation whistle-blowing would have been a big help, it can also be helpful as it can be used to raise concerns about patterns of illness or infection control by medical professionals, this can lead to a quick response and potentially prevent further spread.
Whistle-blowing is an essential part of our culture, it protects both the patients and healthcare providers, leading to a more safer, more accountable National Health Service. It has been shown to be a powerful tool that enables healthcare professionals to speak up about concerns they may have regarding patient safety, quality of care, ethical and systematic issues.
Furthermore, the importance of whistle-blowing extends beyond individual cases. It fosters a culture of transparency, accountability, and improvement, it can also identify and deal with systematic problems.
However, in order for whistle-blowing to be effective, it is essential that protections and support systems are put into place (as can be shown with this article from the BBC: NHS whistleblowers need more protection, expert warns – BBC News) Our software Aranea is an anonymous, encrypted whistle-blowing software designed to help protect whistle-blowers. People must feel safe in the knowledge that their identities will be protected and that they won’t face retaliation. Whistle-blowing is not just a way to raise concerns it can be essential for change and improvements to come about.
It can help Doctors, nurses, consultants and other healthcare professionals to be active in improving the NHS, by holding themselves and their colleagues accountable and nurturing a culture dedicated to protecting whistle-blowers.
As long as whistle-blowing is treated as a tool of assistance, the NHS can continue to fulfil its mission of providing high quality, free healthcare for everyone.