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‘Wales needs its own NHS whistleblowing hotline’ - Kirsty Williams

May 21, 2013 12:10 PM

Wales needs its own a whistleblowing hotline to allow NHS staff to be able to anonymously report their concerns, according to Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams.

The Welsh Government Health Minister recently confirmed to Kirsty Williams in a Written Question that there is currently "no whistleblowing hotline for NHS staff". Instead, staff are expected to contact a number, run by the Royal Mencap Society, that covers NHS and social care employees in both England and Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the Welsh Government to introduce a free hotline that is available solely for NHS staff in Wales.

Kirsty Williams AM commented:

"It is absolutely critical that staff working within our NHS feel they are able to speak out and raise their concerns and that these concerns are taken seriously and acted upon.

"The recent horrific scandals at Mid Staffordshire hospitals further highlighted the importance of NHS staff being able to blow the whistle on problems they have seen in their workplace. Routine neglect sadly became the norm at these hospitals due to a culture of fear, bullying and secrecy where staff were too scared to speak out. Such a scandal must never be allowed to happen again.

"Whistleblowers are a valuable source of intelligence and should always be encouraged to come forward. If there are issues out there, then medical staff have a duty to disclose these concerns as it could save lives.

"It is clear that for too long the Welsh Labour Government has sat back and thought it is fine for NHS organisations themselves to deal with whistleblowers. That just isn't enough. People often don't want to complain through their own organisation and would rather go straight to the top. Therefore the Welsh Government needs to strengthen the help offered to these brave people by offering a well-publicised hotline number. At the moment, the options available for those who want to voice genuine concerns and report problems are not coherent enough. The current number is not particularly well publicised and is unclear whether it is also for staff of NHS Wales. We need a Wales-wide point of contact.

"Health is a devolved issue, therefore I see no reason why England and Wales should have the same whistleblowing initiatives. Wales needs its own hotline that is free to call and is available to all NHS staff."