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Medical musings

Whistleblowing & the NHS

Whistleblowing is an issue in the NHS that has been much in the news of late. The editorial in The Times today (12/2/15) ’Duty of Complaint’ makes the striking point that timely and open reporting of failures or ‘near misses’ is taken as the norm in the aviation business and a vital means of ensuring that quality is maintained and tragic outcomes statistically insignificant.

I cannot help feeling that this type of error reporting would create an atmosphere of continual improvement in the health service and be a healthy change in what is in danger of becoming an unhealthy health service.I do not claim to have an answer but I do fear that the recommendations of Sir Robert Francis, supported by the Health minister Jeremy Hunt, are not the cure that is needed.

The article makes an excellent point that ‘whistleblowing’ is the wrong focus and that “reporting bad practice should be risk free, routine and expected.” The NHS is too valuable to all of us for it to tolerate the sort of errors that would be unacceptable in other safety and quality conscious walks of life.

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