21 March 2012

Whistleblowing: V2.0

S: (n) whistle blower, whistle-blower, whistleblower (an informant who exposes wrongdoing within an organization in the hope of stopping it) "the law gives little protection to whistleblowers who feel the public has a right to know what is going on"; "the whistleblower was fired for exposing the conditions in mental hospitals"*


I'm going to start by asking a fundamental question: is whistleblowing ever unacceptable?

You would think that the answer should be 'no', and in the interests of the bigger picture it should be the case. By raising concerns the theory is that someone more senior than yourself investigates the issue and how it is affecting the services offered, especially if the outcome is detrimental to the public.


But allow me to ask another prudent question: would you ever report your concerns about patient care in a training hospital where you were receiving training?


This question is purely hypothetical in its current context, but I have had my fingers burnt in the past, as have several of my colleagues.

I've heard tales from close colleagues where they found themselves excommunicated by not only nursing and other allied health professionals, but also by other doctors and senior managers because they dared to ask the question: 'hang on, I'm not sure that I'm happy with this situation, something here isn't right.'

The GMC recently published a policy called Raising and Acting on Concerns in Patient Safety. The theory should solve all of my concerns, but I bet it won't make one iota of difference.

F1 doctors (foundation year 1, first 12 months post qualification) like myself have to be signed off by a supervisor to be granted full GMC registration (as opposed to the provisional registration that we have for the first year). Is the signing off process likely to be affected by any previous concerns that have been highlighted by that F1?

Medicine shouldn't be a network of archaic attitudes and closed doors and closed ears, but my experience so far has shown me that it has been. Please don't misunderstand me, I love my work and I'm still very happy to be ploughing my way through my F1 year. This hasn't actually happened to me while I've been qualified, but I do know that it's happened to some of my close friends.

I can't help but thinking 'what would I do?'




* http://wordnet.princeton.edu/


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