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.

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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