The Secretary of State for Health on the important changes to support staff so they can raise concerns about patient care and safety.
One year on from Francis, my top priority remains to support you in creating a more patient-centred, compassionate NHS. So this week I have written to all NHS Trusts to reiterate how strongly I feel that staff should be able to raise any concerns about patient care and safety. We have put in place reforms to give you that reassurance, but in light of recent media reports I want it to be absolutely clear that whistleblowers speaking out about poor care should be confident they will be listened to.
To support you in this we have made a number of important changes. We have ensured that all NHS employment contracts include the right to raise concerns about care and amended the NHS Constitution to strengthen the commitment to supporting staff who do so. We are also funding a national helpline – independent from employers and the Department of Health and completely confidential – to provide advice to anyone in health or social care who wants to raise a concern. The number is 08000 724 725. We are also introducing a new duty of candour, so that when things go wrong, organisations have a duty to admit mistakes and tell patients what has happened. The professional regulators will be working together to include a new consistent professional duty of candour in codes of conduct. Together, these changes are intended to support you by building the open culture we need and where you can be confident that you can speak up for the patients in your care.
Finally I’d like to thank everyone who has been part of a magnificent NHS response to the recent floods. This has been the wettest winter in nearly 250 years, and I know from my own constituency that NHS services have been providing vital help to communities in affected areas.