NHS Culture of Fear must be destroyed

Have posted this on Centreright too. My heart goes out to the affected families….

The travesty at the centre of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust disgrace that led to hundreds of avoidable deaths and exacerbated sickness and disease amongst others is the culture of fear that reigns in many NHS organisations. It is appalling that staff at all levels feel they have to choose between integrity and income. We have heard stories where nurses are reminded every week not to reveal poor practice; where doctors are bribed with bonuses and where management edit the minutes of meetings to ensure the public record doesn’t look bad.

The current whistle-blowing provisions are clearly not working and must be urgently revisited. Staffordshire needs a public inquiry for justice to be done and for families of the deceased and maimed to know that their pain has been heard and that improvements will be embedded across the NHS.

In a profoundly challenging fiscal environment it will be essential to ensure safety for patients through safeguards for staff whose concerns are dismissed by their seniors. We cannot hope to achieve transparency or the opportunities to learn from poor practice if fear is allowed to remain. It needs to be replaced with a culture of honesty and humility – for a bereaved family to know that a mistake has been addressed and won’t be repeated makes a significant difference to coming to terms with their loss.


About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social pioneer, writer, campaigner and commentator. Formerly a clinical optometrist specialising in diabetes and visual impairment, she is the founder and Director of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal and Social. 2020health has through research, events and campaigning influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. In 2014, 2020health were founding partners of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Since 2016, 2020health has increasingly focused on digital health and public health in the community. Julia is a Fellow of the RSA and now also a part-time PhD student at the UCL Interaction Centre, studying the use of digital technology for stress management in the workplace. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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