Nurses are keeping quiet about poor patient safety in order to protect their own careers, it has emerged.
A poll of more than 5,000 nurses at the Royal College of Nursing's annual conference found that while 98% understood it was their professional responsibility to raise concerns, fewer than half would have the confidence to do so.
According to the poll, 78% of nurses were concerned about possible victimisation, personal reprisals or a negative effect on their career if they were to report concerns about below-standard care of patients.
One in five of respondents said that they had been discouraged or told directly not to report their concerns about patient neglect.
The poll comes less than a month after nurse Margaret Haywood was struck off the nursing register run by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for filming undercover at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton for BBC's Panorama programme. She agreed to film during night shifts in order to highlight poor conditions on the wards.
A March report from the Healthcare Commission found that between 400 and 1,200 more people than would normally have been expected died in the care of Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust alone in a three year period.
The Royal College of Nursing today launched a whistleblowers' helpline for its members.