DAUK contributes to Building Trust in Health Journalism event

DAUK’s Dr David Nicholl highlighted our work to protect NHS whistleblowers at the Medical Journalists’ Association’s (MJA) symposium on Building Trust in Health Journalism.

Dr Nicholl was taking part in a panel discussion on the subject of Whistleblowing in the NHS.

He spoke about recent work and surveys by the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) to help doctors across the UK shine a light on the issue of physician associates.

“There was a real fear among people that they could couldn’t speak within their organisations,” he said.

“Junior doctors were really nervous about being identified.”

Photo of a panel discussion at the MJA symposium
DAUK’s Dr David Nicholl (second left) taking part in the panel discussion

DAUK is working with Whistleblowers UK – a not for profit organisation which aims to change how society thinks about whistleblowing.

The work aims to reframe whistleblowing, seek reform of UK legislation, and call for better protections for those who highlight issues in the NHS.

Speaking at the symposium, which was supported by DAUK and City University Journalism Department, Dr Nicholl said: “I would argue, and this is something that DAUK are arguing with Whistleblowers UK, that there needs to be reform.

“PIDA (the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) we don’t think is fit for purpose, and there should be an Independent Office for the Whistleblower.”

The MJA symposium heard a range of presentations including from Dr Ravi Jayaram, who spoke about raising concerns and not being heard.

There were talks on how journalists deal with sensitive leaked information and how they build trust, as well as fact checking, using data to build trust and working with whistleblowers.

Dr Lizzie Toberty, DAUK’s GP lead, said: “It was a brilliant day, with fascinating presenters and speakers who knew their subjects inside out.

“There was lots of interesting and lively debate and discussion, lots of information to digest and to take away, and lots of networking and new contacts being made.

“Medical journalists play a vital role in communicating the workings of healthcare and medicine, and everything that goes with that, and we at DAUK were really pleased to be able to collaborate with the Medical Journalists’ Association.”

Emma Wilkinson vice-chair of the MJA who put the programme together said: “The speakers had so much wisdom and experience to share, and it prompted some incredible questions and discussion, as well as ideas for areas ripe for future investigation.

“It has also encouraged me to reflect on my own work and how I approach sensitive stories and conversations.”