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06th November 2013

Could you handle a whistle-blower?

It is a curious enigma that those who report wrong-doing, particularly wrong-doing  among their peers, are often regarded with  contempt – “snitch” is a word that comes to mind. Whistle-blowing, debatably, occupies some middle ground. So when Stanley Adams blew the whistle against Hoffman La Roche in the 1970s his life was destroyed not so much by Hoffman-La Roche but by its allies. In the present day, Edward Snowden , who disclosed mass surveillance by the CIA/NSA  lives in Russia under temporary asylum.

Yet whistle-blowers should make our hospitals safer, expose government corruption, keep our rivers clean and protect service-users (who could be our own loved ones) in care. From a Care Home owners viewpoint it is crucial to have misdemeanours brought to light before they become serious or, as the  Hillcroft allegations demonstrate, the police have to become involved. Registered Managers cannot see through doors and the first line of protection is often a report to a supervisor. What inhibits employees is the issues discussed in the first paragraph.

Employees need to know that they are required to report wrong doing to their managers and that they will be protected (by anonymity wherever possible)  if they do so. At the same time they need to know that, incidentally, they will not be so protected if they go to the media first.

There should be a clear line of reporting. But employees can be understandably apprehensive, especially if they fear malpractice is sanctioned at the top of the organisation. There are routes to take  in the latter case that can protect both the whistle-blower and the owners.

But first, a sound whistle blowing procedure is essential for any care sector employer and you can download one from this website. If you are already facing an incident reported by a whistle-blower then you would also be wise to take advice.  You can contact the QCS Customer Care team on 0207 138 3078, option 2, for assistance locating this policy.

Malcolm Martin – QCS Expert Human Resources Contributor

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

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