Pilot scheme launched to get NHS whistleblowers back into work

A nationwide pilot to help NHS whistleblowers back into work has been launched by NHS England.

A nationwide pilot to help NHS whistleblowers back into work has been launched by NHS England.

Picture: Paul Stuart

The Whistleblowers Support Scheme will offer career coaching, financial advice and mediation to primary care staff who have suffered as a result of raising concerns about NHS practice.

It is part of NHS England’s response to Sir Robert Francis’ 2015 Freedom to Speak Up report, which highlights that some individuals who have raised concerns experience severe difficulties when seeking re-employment in the health service.

‘This means they are effectively excluded from the ability to work in their chosen field,’ the report states.

Nurse Helene Donnelly was a key witness in the public inquiry led by Sir Robert into care failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust between January 2005 and March 2009.

Now an ambassador for cultural change at Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust, Miss Donnelly told Nursing Standard that she welcomes news of the support scheme.

She said: ‘I am unsure why it seems to be targeted only at primary care staff – I assume this is just to ensure it can be piloted in a relatively small and controlled environment.

‘I am not aware of any particular stats showing primary care staff are more likely to be sacked for whistleblowing than staff in other areas.


‘However, because the majority of primary care settings are quite small and have fewer staff on one site, I am aware that this can make staff feel even more afraid and intimidated about speaking up.

‘Especially if their concerns are about a colleague with whom they work closely.

‘This can also make moving or redeployment to work in another area impossible. So staff who raise their concerns may have few options open to them should their position become untenable.

‘I hope that the pilot will prove successful and I would like to see it rolled out across the rest of the NHS.

The employment group Working Transitions has been appointed to run the pilot until March 2018 and it will be evaluated by Liverpool John Moores University.

Those taking part will be contacted to arrange occupational health assessments and be assigned a coach, who will design a support package tailored to meet their needs.

Chair of NHS England Sir Malcolm Grant said: ‘It is inexcusable that talented, experienced staff should be lost to the NHS as a result of raising legitimate concerns that help the health service improve.’

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