Stoke & Staffordshire

Stafford Hospital inquiry told NHS whistle-blowers need support

The government's chief nursing officer has told a public inquiry into failings at Stafford Hospital that more needs to be done to support whistle-blowing.

Dame Christine Beasley said it was very difficult to explain why concerns were not reported or discovered sooner.

She said people "need to feel they are free to whistle-blow... without fear of victimisation".

The inquiry follows a Healthcare Commission report in 2009 which found "appalling standards" of care.

'In good faith'

Dame Christine said: "[At the Mid Staffordshire trust], the employees probably were either distressed by the situation and left... or became desensitised to the situation and just carried on with their job.

"I have been informed that there was not a high turnover of employees at Mid Staffs, which leads me to believe the people there must have become desensitised."

In a written statement to the inquiry, Dame Christine added there was "undisputedly more work to be done on whistle-blowing".

She said: "To ensure whistle-blowing genuinely works, people need to feel they are free to whistle-blow in good faith without fear of victimisation."

Hundreds of patients died after serious failings in care during 2005 and 2008, the 2009 report found.

The Healthcare Commission cited a catalogue of failings, including cases where receptionists had been used to assess emergency patients.

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