Doctors’ Association UK Chair Dr Rinesh Parmar represented the Association at a key roundtable meeting about the challenges of COVID-19 and whistleblowing in the NHS. The event, co-ordinated by Whistleblowers UK and also attended by Learn Not Blame lead Dr Jenny Vaughan and member Dr David Nicholl was an opportunity to frankly discuss the key barriers to whistleblowing. It was attended by key healthcare stakeholders and MPs.
In calling for protections to be strengthened Dr Parmar cited the countless emails and messages that the Doctors’ Association UK have received from frontline doctors with concerns. The meeting had a keytone address from whistleblower and Consultant Cardiologist Dr Raj Mattu. Speaking at the meeting, Dr Rinesh Parmar Chair of the Doctors’ Association UK said:
“COVID-19 has exposed and really shone a light on the current void in whistleblowing protection for healthcare workers.
Colleagues have raised concerns about the availability of PPE and testing and have faced detriment and disciplinary action.
A true freedom to speak up is vital for patient and staff safety, there is still a long way to go to achieve a just culture in the NHS.”
He spoke about how the Doctors’ Association UK during the first wave of the pandemic became the voice of frontline doctors, providing a platform for them to share their concerns safely. The creation of the NHSPPE App facilitated the raising of concerns anonymously.
“There is a perverse system at play which targets the whistleblower and their credibility, shifting focus away from the serious patient safety concern that has been raised. The reality is that patients are not safer and the issue is just brushed under the carpet.”
He spoke of the work being done by DAUK on the Learn Not Blame campaign as well as our support for the reforms to the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) and the calls for an independent Office for the Whistleblower.
Dr Jenny Vaughan spoke about her role with Learn Not Blame as well as some of the work being done by the Royal College of Physicians. Dr David Nicholl spoke about his own personal experiences of being a whistleblower about concerns over drug shortages and operation yellowhammer.