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Whistleblowing Policy for the NHS

Dear Colleagues

Whistleblowing Policy for the NHS

Many years ago when I was doing my general nurse training, I am afraid to say I witnessed some shocking abuse by a nurse kicking an elderly patient. I did not feel that I could speak up because the aggressive nurse was very intimidating and I had no one to tell. Until very recently, a hierarchy and culture has existed punishing staff who speak up or questions what they see. I am therefore pleased to inform you that a new NHS Policy has been set up on 1st April 2016 to improve standards of care for patients and staff. It was recommended by Sir Robert Francis in his Freedom to Speak Up review.

This policy contributes to the need to develop a more open and supportive culture that encourages staff to raise any issues of patient care quality or safety.

  • It says that the policy will ensure: NHS organisations encourage staff to speak up and set out the steps they will take to get to the bottom of any concerns.
  • Organisations will each appoint their own whistleblowing guardian, an independent and impartial source of advice to staff at any stage of raising a concern.
  • Any concerns not resolved quickly through line managers are investigated.
  • Investigations will be evidence-based and led by someone suitably independent in the organisation, producing a report which focuses on learning lessons and improving care.
  • Whistleblowers will be kept informed of the investigation’s progress.
  • High level findings are provided to the organisation’s board and the policy will be annually reviewed and improved.

All NHS organisations in England have to adopt this policy as a minimum standard to help to normalise the raising of concerns for the benefit of all patients.

The NMC has a whistleblowing policy which you will be aware of but please refresh your knowledge. You could link this topic to a reflective discussion or forum or use it as a piece of self directed learning for your revalidation.

Some of you will know that our Quality Assurance department handles all complaints received. We use this information to improve our relationship with the client and highlight the difficulties nurses are facing with the current shortage of staff in the work place, as well as assisting with improving quality of our nurses’ practice.

It can be very difficult to maintain a professional attitude and good conduct when being overstretched, but feel free as an Agency Nurse to ask to speak to the manager if you believe that the nurse:patient ratio is unsafe and that you will not be able to deliver the care your patient requires.

Please also inform the consultant who has booked you so that we can have this on file and support you.


Please contact Fiona Spearing, Clinical Lead Nurse for further information if you have any questions at


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