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TUC13: Physios urge TUC to fight for NHS whistleblowers to be protected

11 September 2013 - 12:53pm

Physiotherapy staff lined up alongside hospital consultants to tell delegates about the difficulties they face in drawing attention to malpractice in the NHS.

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CSP member Rekha Soni told the TUC Congress that really good employers would develop policies in partnership with their employees. Photo: Jess Hurd

London-based CSP member Rekha Soni told delegates that the CSP saw whistleblowing as a last resort.

She pointed out that 'really good’ employers would develop policies in partnership with their employees. As a result, whistleblowing would not be needed, she said.

'All clinicians and other workers caring for patients must be empowered to report concerns without fear.'

Ms Soni said CSP members and other health professionals were often in the best position to spot problems early on. But physios fear disclosure could expose them to bullying and harassment, she noted.

Citing the example of one CSP member who told the society of her fears, Ms Soni said: 'She was threatened with disciplinary action if she reported the very real clinical concern that she had over the treatment of an elderly patient whose care was being affected by the cuts to services.'

An independent investigation of confidential disclosures would improve patients’ experiences and offer a way forward, said Ms Soni.

'It would mean our members could act in accordance with the dictates of their conscience without fear of reprisal.’

Meanwhile, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) said there should be a clear line between an NHS employer and an investigator looking into whistleblowing claims.

'Doctors still fear the consequences of whistleblowing,' said Eddie Saville from HCSA.

After the publication of the Mid Staffordshire review, the government set up the post of chief inspector of hospitals, whose remit should be extended to include whistleblowing concerns, delegates agreed. This would ensure that investigations were conducted in a totally independent manner, congress heard.

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