NHS Used Playbook Of Tactics To Silence Staff Who Tried To Raise Patient Safety Concerns

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gagged whistleblowing doctor

NHS whisteblowers have had their lives and careers ruined because they attempted to raise concerns about the safety of patients according to reports by The Telegraph.

Over 50 doctors and nurses told the British newspaper that they’ve been targeted after raising concerns about upwards of 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 cases of poor care.

Instead of trying to fix the problems, NHS bosses have instead been spending millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money hiring law firms and private eyes to investigate them.

Expose News reports: One of The Telegraph articles reveals how the NHS uses a four-step playbook to break whistleblowers.

If we want to understand why some NHS staff did not speak out during the covid era, perhaps we should consider whether the culture of fear that the NHS has fomented has played a role.

The following is an abridged version the article ‘The four-step ‘playbook’ the NHS uses to break whistleblowers’ written by Janet Eastham and Gordon Rayner published by The Telegraph on 15 May 2024.

NHS managers use a playbook of tactics to silence whistleblowers that is “designed to break you,” according to doctors who have tried to raise patient safety concerns.

A Telegraph investigation has found so many similarities in the way different NHS trusts and clinics deal with whistleblowers that many doctors believe the problem is systemic.

The doctors complain of bullying and harassment, both from managers and colleagues, which they claim creates a culture of cover-up.

Law firms and private investigators are also often brought in to investigate the whistleblower, who is then told they are being suspended.

Years of internal investigations, disciplinary hearings and legal battles typically follow, until medics succumb to the personal, professional and financial pressure and quit.

Many doctors who have decades of expertise in their field and distinguished careers are reduced to depression and suicidal thoughts by the situation they find themselves in.

Some sign non-disclosure agreements, enabling them to return to work if they promise to keep their mouths shut, others try to fight back through the High Court or employment tribunals, and others leave the NHS for private hospitals or quit the medical profession altogether.

The pattern is not dissimilar to the punitive measures – including suspensions and contract terminations – employed by the Post Office against its sub-postmasters and employees during the Horizon IT scandal.

Step 1: Investigate the whistleblower

The evidence collected by The Telegraph suggests NHS employers are more likely to investigate the conduct of whistleblowers than the issue they have raised.

Of the 52 medics interviewed by this newspaper, 41 said their own conduct was put under investigation. They were all subjected to counter-allegations after raising concerns.

Only 28 – barely half – said their employer carried out a patient safety investigation, and where patient safety investigations were conducted, the vast majority – 24 out of 28 – had serious concerns about the way the probes were conducted.

External law firms and private investigators, some of whom are ex-policemen, are often brought in to investigate the whistleblower’s own activities.

The formal process for investigating doctors usually begins with a maintaining high professional standards (“MHPS”) investigation, which is supposed to be wrapped up in six weeks, but which often lasts much longer.

Niamh Harris
About Niamh Harris 15079 Articles
I am an alternative health practitioner interested in helping others reach their maximum potential.