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NHS measures for whistleblowers in primary care

NHS England has issued new guidance on how primary care staff such as pharmacy team members should be supported to raise concerns about their workplace, facilitating primary care teams to take action and make improvements.

A five-week consultation with primary care staff was held that has been used as the basis of the new guidance. This was prompted by Sir Robert Francis’ recommendation that the principles set out in his Freedom to Speak Up report be adapted for primary care due to concerns around anonymity in smaller work environments. 

Earlier this year, NHS England became a ‘prescribed person’, which means that primary care service staff in GP surgeries, opticians, pharmacies and dental practices can raise any concerns regarding inappropriate activity with NHS England directly.

Recommendations that arose from the consultation include:

  • Each NHS primary care provider should name an individual, who is independent of the line management chain and is not the direct employer, as the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian. They can raise awareness of how staff can share a concern and offer support to staff who do so.
  • NHS primary care providers should be proactive in preventing any inappropriate behaviour, like bullying or harassment, or discrimination towards staff who raise a concern.
  • All NHS primary care providers should review and update their local policies and procedures by September 2017, to align with the new guidance.

Neil Churchill, NHS England Director for Patient Experience, said: “Safety in primary care depends on listening to, and acting on, concerns raised. This new guidance will help ensure that if someone witnesses a risk to patient safety, they can speak out without reprisal and confident that effective action will be taken.

“A safe NHS is an open and honest NHS where we routinely learn from mistakes and use that learning to improve patient safety.”




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