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Statement in response to Sir Robert Francis’ whistleblowing review

11 February 2015

Jocelyn Cornwell, Chief Executive of The Point of Care Foundation said: “The fact that people feel they need to whistle-blow in the NHS is a sad indication of its organisational culture and a lack of listening at all levels.

“It is shocking that some 30% of NHS staff who spoke to the review said they felt unsafe after they had raised concerns. However, it is important to remember that often when senior people fail to listen, it is not because they are inherently malicious or obstructive, but because they themselves feel unsupported and under pressure.

“It is very important that people who raise concerns on behalf of patients are treated fairly, not only for the sake of patients but also to ensure that the environment in which care is delivered is healthy and safe. Rightly or wrongly, the merest hint that staff are punished for speaking up spreads suspicion like wild fire, and with it the fear of reprisal.

“We are very pleased to see that the report highlights the importance of reflective practice. The Point of Care Foundation is promoting the spread of Schwartz Rounds, confidential meetings which offer opportunities for staff to take time out and reflect. We believe all organisations should make reflective practice available to staff as a matter of routine.

“Ideally, when staff have a concern it would be raised and dealt with quickly and fairly by the organisation concerned, and, if necessary, changes to working practices made. But where a local resolution isn’t possible, it is good to have an independent person that staff can turn to.”

Notes to editors:

The Point of Care Foundation published its report Staff Care, How to engage staff in the NHS and why it matters in January 2014, which sets out how supporting staff and good staff engagement is linked to patient care. A press release summarising the findings is also available.

The Point of Care Foundation is the national body responsible for supporting the implementation of Schwartz Rounds in the NHS. Sir Robert Francis, in the public inquiry into care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, recommended Schwartz Rounds as a way to help bring about positive culture change in the NHS, by bringing staff together for the benefit of the patient (paragraph 20.129, page 1394 of the third volume).

About The Point of Care Foundation

  • The Point of Care Foundation is an independent charity dedicated to improving patients’ experience of care and increasing support for the staff who work with them.
  • We provide evidence and resources to support health and care staff in the difficult work of caring for patients.
  • We believe a truly patient-centred approach – focussed on listening, understanding and responding to the needs of the whole individual – is essential to the delivery of the best possible quality of care.
  • For further information about our work please visit our website or follow us on Twitter @pointofcarefdn.

For media enquiries, please contact 0203 841 5570.