Whistleblowing is an important source of intelligence to help government identify wrongdoing and risks to public service delivery. But many concerns go unreported, and the intelligence that does exist is not routinely collected and shared. It is essential that employees have trust in the system for handling whistleblowers, and confidence that they will be taken seriously, protected and supported by their organisations if they blow the whistle. A positive approach to whistleblowing should exist wherever the taxpayer's pound is spent, in private and non-statutory bodies as well as public authorities. However, far too often whistleblowers have been shockingly treated, and whistleblowers who have come forward have had to show remarkable bravery. Departments' own attempts at changing whistleblowing policy and processes for the better have not been successful in modifying a bullying culture, or in combating unacceptable behaviour, such as harassment of whistleblowers, within their organisations. The lack of cross-government leadership on whistleblowing has resulted in an inconsistent approach across departments.
We welcome the Secretary of State's recent announcement that Sir Robert Francis QC will lead an independent policy review into whistleblowing and creating a culture of openness and honesty in the NHS.