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Call For Whistleblowers Treatment Inquiry

October 21, 2013

Ministers must launch an inquiry into how whistle-blowers are treated in the wake of the Orchid View care home scandal, MP Charlotte Leslie has said.


The Tory MP spoke after Lisa Martin revealed she had not worked since exposing abuse at Orchid View in Copthorne, West Sussex, in 2011.


That was “an indictment of our system”, Ms Leslie told BBC Radio 5 live.


The government said it would be publishing plans on protecting whistle-blowers later this year.


On Friday, at an inquest into 19 deaths at Orchid View, West Sussex coroner Penelope Schofield said the home was riddled with “institutionalised abuse”.


She ruled that neglect contributed to five of the deaths and said the home, then run by Southern Cross, was “mismanaged and understaffed”.


Orchid View has since reopened under a new name and new management.


Ms Martin, who first told police about problems at the home, told 5 live on Saturday: “I do want to work back in care but I can’t get a job in the care industry again.


“Where I live is a very small village, next to Copthorne – everyone knows what went on.


“It’s just been an absolute nightmare for me.


“Obviously I know, morally, that I did the right things.


“Whether I would ever do that again – I probably wouldn’t because it’s had a huge impact on my life.”

‘Losing livelihoods’

Conservative MP Ms Leslie, who is also a member of the health select committee, told 5 live’s Sunday Breakfast that Ms Martin’s experience was “absolutely appalling but sadly it’s becoming a recurring theme”.


“Whistle-blowers across the NHS and the care system do the right thing, stand up and save lives, in many cases.


“And then other future employers look at them and, instead of saying, ‘thank goodness – here’s someone who can prevent bad things happening’, they look at them and say ‘here’s a troublemaker’.


“Start Quote

Staff should be able to speak out and we are determined to ensure that if individuals raise concerns about patient safety they are listened to”

Department of Health


“People who are saving lives are losing their jobs, losing their livelihoods and everything.”


She added: “That’s why I think a whistle-blowing inquiry or review is needed into how we can ensure that whistle-blowing isn’t needed – because management systems iron out these things before it gets to whistle-blowing – and how you can protect whistle-blowers.”


A spokesperson for the Department of Health (DoH) said staff in the health and social care sectors “should never be stopped from raising concerns about patient safety and the secretary of state for health has told trusts that doing this is unacceptable”.


“Staff should be able to speak out and we are determined to ensure that if individuals raise concerns about patient safety they are listened to,” they added.


The department said that, later this year, it would publish its response to a public inquiry report released in February into failings at Stafford Hospital which came after years of neglect led to the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients.


Its response to the inquiry would “lay out how we plan on making sure whistle-blowers are not just protected but also praised for their courage and thanked by management”.


That would form “a key part of the effort to build the safe, effective and compassionate culture that patients, the public and the overwhelming majority of staff across health and social care expect”, the spokesperson added.

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