Just one in ten health and care whistleblowers’ concerns about risks to public safety have been investigated during the pandemic, according to a report.
In findings in the report by confidential advice line Protect, only 10% of health and care workers said their employers had investigated their concerns, with 43% ignored, 22% denied, 17% admitted and just 1% resolved.
Health (29%) and care workers (19%) accounted for almost half of whistleblowers’ concerns about risks to public safety during the pandemic.
Protect Chief Executive Liz Gardiner, said: “There is no excuse for employers to ignore whistleblowers, but during a global pandemic, it is a danger for us all when concerns are not acted on and the consequences could be a matter of life and death.”
The report highlights the case of Raj, a care assistant at a care home, who raised concerns about a COVID-19 outbreak being handled poorly and that a decision not to refer a patient to a hospital had led to their death. Raj also raised concerns about patients being treated outside CQC regulations on dignity and respect.
The care assistant reported the issues to his manager and the CQC but rather than having them investigated he was subjected to a period of targeted bullying by managers at the home and later dismissed on the grounds of poor conduct.
Darren Jones MP, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, said: “Whistleblowing is a vital means for workers to raise concerns and shine a light on wrongdoing. Putting in place effective whistleblowing arrangements should be a key part of good governance, helping to ensure that people are encouraged to speak out and that their concerns are listened to and acted upon.”
The report makes a number of recommendations, including introducing a legal requirement for employers to have whistleblowing arrangements in place and penalties for employers who breach standards.