The All Wales NHS Whistle-blowing policy needs to be radically changed if it is to work successfully, according to Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Kirsty Williams.
The all-Wales policy paper sets out the processes health boards must have in place if an employee wishes to raise their concerns about patient safety or malpractice.
The all-Wales policy states that local health boards must "provide a secondary site for issues to be raised where going through the line manager in not appropriate". The whistleblowing policy goes on to suggest arrangements that could be in place for staff including a telephone hotline or a 'raising concerns' champion.
However, freedom of Information requests by the Welsh Liberal Democrats to Welsh health boards have revealed that at least six of the seven Health Boards in Wales have not set up their own whistleblowing hotline, whilst only two have established a 'raising concerns champion'.
The scandal at Mid Staffordshire hospitals has highlighted the importance of NHS staff being able to blow the whistle on problems they have seen in their workplace without fear of recrimination.
Kirsty Williams said:
"The All Wales NHS Whistle-blowing policy is 21 pages of passing the buck to health boards. The Welsh Labour Government need to start taking the initiative and showing some leadership on this issue. They are not taking the issue of whistleblowing seriously enough.
"Staff who work in local health boards across Wales need a whistleblowing hotline that they can call anonymously. This has been done in Scotland at very little cost. It's worrying that not a single health board that responded to our Freedom of Information requests has set up their own hotline for their staff.
"The All Wales NHS Whistle-blowing policy needs to be clear and concise. We need to be encouraging people to come forward if they have concerns about what is happening at their work place. Speaking out is an incredibly brave thing to do and can save lives. Currently, the policy is too complicated and can leave people feeling confused. Different health boards in Wales have different whistleblowing procedures. This shouldn't be the case. A nurse or medical worker in any part of the NHS should have the same ease of access to someone who will listen to their concerns and act upon them.
"For too long the Welsh Labour government has sat back and left NHS organisations to deal with whistle-blowers themselves. The current guidance continues that trend. I urge the Welsh Labour Government to radically change this guidance when it reviews it in March so that we can have a truly Wales-wide policy that allows NHS workers to raise their concerns with ease and confidence."