Raising Concerns at Work: Whistleblowing Guidance for workers and employers in Health and Social Care

Raising concerns about poor practice, as part of people’s day-to day work, should be the norm. That’s the message in new guidance that’s been launched this week, providing support for health and social care staff and managers over whistleblowing.

There are a number of key recommendations, to help make whistleblowing an important part of improving the quality of service user support and patient safety. From an employer’s viewpoint, whistleblowing can be an opportunity to stop poor practice at an early stage, before it becomes normalised. For the worker, the freedom to raise concerns without fear means that they can go ahead and ‘do the right thing’.

“Staff in the health and social care sector should never be stopped from raising concerns about patient safety. Staff should be supported and protected when they raise concerns, as well as praised for their courage and thanked by management as a key part of the effort to build the safe, effective and compassionate culture that patients, service users, the public and the overwhelming majority of staff across health and social care expect.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health

“Raising concerns at work over poor practice is closely linked to improvements and can make a real difference to people who use care and health services. But whistleblowing is not easy. Raising Concerns at Work offers helpful advice to care and health staff who wish to raise concerns but do not know how to do it. It can also help organisations to ensure that their policies encourage and support staff who challenge poor or dangerous practice.”

Tony Hunter, Chief Executive, the Social Care Institute for Excellence

The new Guidance was developed through a process of consultation with a working group, whose membership comes from key organisations and trade unions within health and social care.  Organisers also hosted an Open Space event in October 2013, which brought together a wider spectrum of stakeholders, both groups and individuals, for a workshop to explore their views on what was needed.

The Whistleblowing Helpline is the national helpline for people in the NHS and adult social care, providing free information and advice on the whistleblowing process to staff, trade unions and employers within the sector.  The Whistleblowing Helpline was asked by the Department of Health to update and expand the national guidance on Raising Concerns at Work and has been endorsed by the Department of Health, Mencap and the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

Raising concerns at work – download the publication

Key messages in the Guidance include:

  • A flowchart of the whistleblowing process, in line with the legislation
  • Top tips for workers who wish to raise concerns, and sources of advice and support for them
  • Top tips for managers to respond positively when staff raise concerns
  • At corporate level, the Guidance sets national standards for whistleblowing policies for employers

Now that the Guidance has been published we want to ensure that people are aware of its existence and know how to access it.  As part of our publicity campaign, we will be:

  • Publicising and distributing the Guidance across the sector
  • The Guidance is written in a modular form.  We can target particular parts at different audiences (workers, managers and employers)
  • Producing fliers about the Guidance, promoting the Top Tips sections for workers and managers and giving access details to the full Guidance, to be distributed widely

The Whistleblowing Helpline offers free, confidential and independent advice about whistleblowing processes to employers, trade unions  and staff working within the NHS and social care sector.  It is provided by Mencap and commissioned by the Department of Health.  The Helpline can be reached by telephoning 08000 724725, emailing enquiries@wbhelpline.org.uk or visiting the website on www.wbhelpline.org.uk


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