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Protecting whistleblowers

21 September 2023
Volume 32 · Issue 17

It is important to recognise and support whistleblowers in health care. They play a crucial role in promoting transparency, accountability and patient safety within the health and care sectors. According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2023), whistleblowing is when a worker, which includes students, raises a concern about wrongdoing in the public interest.

Within the sphere of health care, the importance of maintaining integrity, transparency and accountability cannot be overemphasised. Whistleblowers are often employees who courageously step forward to disclose information regarding malpractice, ethical violations or potential dangers within healthcare systems. Recognising, supporting and protecting them is not simply a moral obligation, it is a central component of ensuring patient safety, improving the quality of care and promoting a culture of trust.

There is a difference between raising concerns and whistleblowing. For raising concerns to qualify as whistleblowing six criteria need to be met by law. For example, the individual must believe they are acting in the public interest, meaning that a number of people will stand to benefit if action is taken in response. Personal grievances and complaints, therefore, are not usually whistleblowing. If all the legal criteria are met, the person has legal protections to prevent them suffering disadvantage from their employer.

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