News story

NHS Constitution changes to enshrine whistle-blowing in law

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Health staff who raise concerns about poor patient care will be protected in the future, under changes to the NHS Constitution announced today.

The changes will also make it clear that it is the duty of all NHS workers to report bad practice or any mistreatment of patients receiving care from the health service.

The changes will be enshrined in the NHS Constitution and associated guidelines as soon as possible to encourage more staff to come forward with concerns. They follow a public consultation on whistle-blowing and the NHS Constitution.

Changes to the constitution, to be made in early 2012, will add:

  • an expectation that staff should raise concerns at the earliest opportunity
  • a pledge that NHS organisations should support staff by ensuring their concerns are fully investigated and that there is someone independent, outside of their team, to speak to
  • clarity around the existing legal right for staff to raise concerns about safety, malpractice or other wrong doing without suffering any detriment.

Health Minister Andrew Lansley said: ‘The first lines of defence against bad practice are the doctors and nurses doing their best to care for patients. They need to know that they have a responsibility to their patients to raise concerns if they see risks to patient safety. And when they do, they should be reassured that the Government stands full square behind them.’

The outcome of the consultation is set out in a report that includes the full revised text of the amendments to the Constitution.