4.2 Whistleblowing / Raising Concerns
Most staff put the interests of service users at the heart of what they do and understand they - as much as their employers - are responsible for ensuring the health and wellbeing of all those who use their service.
This is further reinforced under a common law "duty of care" which applies to employers and staff.
In practice, therefore, it is vitally important that staff are able to raise a concern within their teams or with their line manager when they think that the safety or wellbeing of service users, the organisation or the public is at risk. However, where a member of staff is uncertain about whether to raise a concern or is worried that their colleagues or their manager will react badly to the news, there is a risk that they will remain silent or wait until it is too late to avoid or remedy the problem.
All agencies whether statutory, voluntary or private should have their own policies to encourage staff to speak up and to provide a safe alternative where the normal route - through line management - is not possible for whatever reason. These may be called "whistle-blowing", "speak up" or "raising concerns" policies and are often linked to codes of conduct/practice. There may also be separate anti-fraud policies to deal specifically with matters of financial impropriety.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 came into force on 2nd July 1999 and has been amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. This legislation gives legal protection to employees against being dismissed or penalised by their employers for publicly disclosing serious concerns falling in certain specified categories. The Act applies across the private and voluntary sectors as well as to public bodies. The charity Public Concern at Work produces a useful guide to the Act - see Public Concern At Work - Guide to PIDA
Staff who are not confident about raising a concern locally or using other internal or external routes - whether in a whistle-blowing policy or not - should contact the People Directorate or the following organisations for information or advice:
Action on Elder Abuse
A charity whose helpline provides information, advice and support to victims and others who are concerned about or have witnessed abuse of the elderly.
For more see National Care Line - Action on Elder Abuse or telephone the helpline on 080 8808 8141.
Public Concern at Work
Whistleblowing charity. A confidential advice service for anyone concerned about wrongdoing at work who is unsure whether or how to raise it.For more see Public Concern at Work website or telephone the helpline on 020 7404 6609
The Carers Line
A national helpline that provides information and support to carers who voluntarily look after family, partners or friends who are ill, frail or disabled.For more see Carers UK website or telephone 0808 808 7777 (helpline) or 020 7378 4999 (Carers UK Head Office).