Following the CQC investigation into West Suffolk NHS Hospital, Protect Acting Chief Executive, Liz Gardiner, said: ‘Those who raised concerns and voiced their alarm about the toxic culture at West Suffolk need to be thanked for doing so. Their whistleblowing triggered a CQC inspection and the regulator has now downgraded an outstanding hospital to one ‘requiring improvement.’
The CQC report found: ‘Not all staff felt respected, supported and valued or felt that they could raise concerns without fear. Communication and collaboration to seek solutions had not always been effectively undertaken. An open culture was not always demonstrated. Staff that raised concerns were not always appropriately supported or treated with respect. Concerns were not consistently investigated.’
The Guardian reported how the Trust hired a fingerprint and handwriting expert company to track down a whistleblower who had anonymously tipped off a family about a medical blunder.
Protect’s Liz Gardiner added, “Protect has written to the Health Secretary expressing our deep concern about the actions taken by managers, and the appalling message this sends to staff about speaking up. We are pleased the regulator has investigated, and we urge the Trust’s Board to review their Speak Up arrangements as a priority to ensure staff have the confidence to raise concerns in the future.”
The CQC has set out the areas for improvement and said that the Trust must “take definitive steps to improve the culture, openness and transparency throughout the organisation.”