Medics raise alarm over NHS response to safety concerns around patient care | Fieldfisher
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Medics raise alarm over NHS response to safety concerns around patient care

Mark Bowman

Alarming news reported by the Telegraph this week that  more than 50 doctors and nurses believe that their NHS bosses completely disregarded their reported concerns over upwards of 170 patient deaths and nearly 700 instances of poor care. Some further believe that their careers have been ruined because they spoke out.

Despite the NHS regularly highlighting that it puts "patients first" and its obligation to its "duty of candour", the sad truth is that a recent YouGov poll revealed 51 per cent of British adults do not trust the NHS to be open and honest about its services and standards of care. 

40 of the 52 medics interviewed by the paper said the result of their whistleblowing was that no positive action was taken to address patient safety concerns, 36 said patients remained at risk, 19 said rather than deal with concerns they were covered up, and 10 said the problems were simply denied to even exist. 

NHS England (which took over the role of NHS Improvement in July 2022) has a specific "Freedom to Speak Up" policy to ensure everyone within the NHS feels safe and confident to speak up, encouraging NHS leaders to take the opportunity to learn and improve from those who do speak up. 19 of the doctors reported that NHS England told them they could not deal with individual cases.

At the outset of cases I am often asked by clients how can they possibly win a case against the enormity of the NHS. They are concerned that doctors will stick up for each other regardless of clear errors and medical records can be altered. 

I have historically sought to reassure clients that actually such cover ups are few and far between.  Let's hope the supposed culture of transparency and responsibility to be honest with patients becomes reality rather than merely policy. 

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