The case of the disappearing whistleblower: an analysis of National Health Service inquiries

Martin Powell, John Blenkinsopp, Huw Davies, Russell Mannion, Ross Millar, Jean McHale, Nick Snowden

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Abstract

It has been recognized that whistleblowing is important to detect failings in many sectors within many nations. Many serious failings in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) are brought to light by the action of whistleblowers. However, analysis of the reports of public inquiries reveal how little the inquiries examined the role of the whistleblower and how rarely they made any recommendations concerning NHS whistleblowing. The authors examine the case of the disappearing whistleblower, and suggest reasons for the limited focus on them.

IMPACT
Despite the recognition that ‘speaking up’ or ‘whistleblowing’ can make a major contribution to the quality and safety of health services, many inquiries into poor care did not appear to blow the whistle loudly enough and governments failed to listen and act appropriately when they did. Policy-makers and practitioners need to consider the importance of whistleblowing; if existing policies are working, or new ones need to be introduced, and—if so—whether they should be based on cultural or legal remedies. In particular, as many international organizations and nations have focused on whistleblowing in recent years, policy-makers in the UK should review whether legislation is required to update or replace its existing whistleblowing law.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Money and Management
Early online date22 Mar 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2021

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