One-in-three NHS whistleblowers have faced reprisals, according to a survey by staff union Unison.
Staff are most frightened of raising concerns about unsafe staffing levels, government targets, waiting lists, risks caused by other staff and a bullying culture.
The union surveyed 2,000 nurses, midwives, porters and cleaners and found that one-in-three said their NHS trust would not welcome reports of a major problem.
Karen Jennings, Unison’s head of health, said: “It is simply appalling that staff say are victimised if they blow the whistle on bad practice in the NHS. This is dangerous thinking and trusts are failing in their duty of care to patients and staff by burying their heads in the sand over this issue. It is essential for staff to be able to raise concerns about standards of patient care or staff safety without the fear of reprisals. Employers must have clear whistleblowing policies open and easily accessible to everyone.
“It is very worrying that half of all those asked did not even know if their trust had a whistleblowing policy. And even more alarming, one third said their trust would rather not be told if there was a major problem.“
The key findings of the report:
• 90 per cent had blown the whistle when they had concerns about patient safety
• 50 per cent did not know if their trust had a whistleblowing policy
• 33 per cent said their trust would want them to blow the whistle even if it resulted in bad publicity
• 30 per cent said their trust would not want to be told there was a major problem
• Only a quarter thought the culture was improving