Whistleblowers’ Review – evidence must be asked for

The government’s Review of the whistleblowing framework  was long overdue before the events at the Countess of Chester Hospital became known in all their terrible and harrowing detail.

We shall never know if the evil committed there could have been stopped completely – but there is a growing conviction that had concerns raised by medical staff not been dismissed and those doctors not treated with what is increasingly looking like contemptible disregard, then it would almost certainly have been stopped sooner. ‘First, do no harm’ could hardly have been given a greater antithesis.

This organisation has for many years raised concerns about the ease and safety with which employees within our health and other public services can raise the alarm about public safety and the use of public money.

We are extremely concerned about whistleblowing within the NHS and the detriment suffered by too many clinicians who have attempted to raise such concerns in the public interests, which can severely deter others contemplating making such disclosures. We do not stand alone in that view. Referral of doctors to the General Medical Council, or threats of punitive claims for costs at Employment Tribunals are just two of the methods which may be used against the few who dare to put their heads above the parapet and question prevailing assumptions. It seems probable that such factors had a part to play in the tragic circumstances that have occurred at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

We are concerned that there has been no call for evidence to the review and that there are no contact details on the GOV.UK website on which the terms of reference are published.

It would be unfortunate if this were to act as a barrier to full and open participation in such a vital review.

For the sake of greater safety moving forwards,  we call for this to be addressed, and quickly. Openness must prevail: calling for evidence is the only way to do that fairly. 


Dr Colin Hutchinson, FRCOphth

Chair of Doctors for the NHS

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