BMA response to NHS whistle-blower reform

  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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The BMA has welcomed new government measures to assist NHS whistle-blowers and improve the process of investigations into allegations of poor care.

The measures were unveiled by health secretary Matt Hancock in response to the publication of the Gosport Independent Panel Report on the investigation of 800 deaths at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital between 1987 and 2001. The report, published in June, found at least 450 patients’ lives had been "shortened by inappropriate use of opioids". 

The health secretary announced a raft of changes, including new legislation to compel NHS trusts to report annually on how they have addressed concerns raised by staff.

The measures include the establishment of a "medical examiner" to scrutinise all deaths not being investigated by coroners. The creation of the role has been supported in principle by the BMA and was referenced in its response to the Leslie Hamilton review of gross negligence manslaughter and culpable homicide commissioned by the GMC.

BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said many doctors have little or no confidence in raising concerns for fear of not being listened to and the effect it may have on their careers.

"Doctors experience challenges of trying to provide safe patient care when there is poor staffing, gaps in rotas and where a persistent culture of blame stifles learning and discourages innovation," he said. He said the new legislation must take account of the impact that culture is having.

“The BMA now wants to see the health secretary’s commitments to an NHS that promotes learning, rather than blame and listens to patients and their families and staff concerns, enacted, with tangible results that deliver real benefits to patients and to staff,” he said.