Am I protected if I ‘blow the whistle’?

‘Whistleblower’ is the term for a worker who reports suspected wrongdoing at work. Officially this is called ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’ and covers incidents such as healthcare professionals speaking out about poor practice.

The failures in care in Mid Staffs shocked the nation and shone a spotlight on the difficulties faced by those who tried to report them. As a result, Sir Robert Francis QC conducted an in depth review, culminating in the “Freedom to Speak Up?” report, which concluded that existing legislation was not sufficient to protect staff.

Whistleblowers faced discrimination both at the time of blowing the whistle, and where they were known to have raised concerns in the past. Contributors to the review submitted examples of interviews and job offers being revoked at last minute and references withheld, encouraging a new support scheme for those who have found themselves out of work as a result.

Reforms set out in the Freedom to Speak Up report received a cross-party welcome at the time of release in 2013. The then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt reassured the country that these reforms would be fast-tracked into law.

One change as a result of the report is the appointing Freedom to Speak Up guardians at every Trust. Details of these should be on the Trust’s intranet, but you can find an up-to-date directory here.

The Pulse policy

At Pulse we foster an atmosphere of open communication and commitment to high standards of service, within which criticisms can be frankly made without fear of reprisal, and will be thoroughly investigated.

The Pulse policy on whistleblowing complies with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 in protecting and not victimising any worker who seeks to report, and has investigated, a genuine and reasonable concern about any form of malpractice that they encounter in the course of their work.

“Patient and staff safety and wellbeing must be at the heart of all we do. We ensure that all concerns are taken seriously, in a sensitive and confidential manner. It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain standards of care and report concerns where standards are compromised.” Karen Matthews-Shard, Group Clinical Director

If you would like more information about Pulse’s whistleblowing policy, please contact us or email our Clinical Governance team at

Further information on whistleblowing:

  • Visit the government website to access the ‘How to blow the whistle’ guide for more information.
  • You can also read the Francis report, here.

What is freedom to speak up?

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