Taking action to support doctors who raise concerns

GMC, online 4 August 2015
How we deal with complaints about doctors who are whistleblowers.
“We have published our action plan (pdf) in response to Sir Anthony Hooper’s independent review (pdf) of how we deal with complaints about doctors who are whistleblowers. The review recommended that we should better understand the background when an employer refers a doctor to us, where the doctor has raised a concern with or about their employer. We are considering these recommendations carefully in our action plan, so we can make sure that we deal with the concerns about the doctor fairly and appropriately.”
Find link to action plan and related information here.

Indian doctors blow whistle on corrupt medical practices

South China Morning Post, 13 April 2015
Author: Amrit Dhillon
“Besides prescribing unnecessary or expensive drugs, some doctors recommend unnecessary tests and operations.Seventy-eight doctors have been courageous enough to blow the whistle on this phenomenon, half on the record and half off.The report, “Reflections by Sincere Doctors”, is to be published as a book by Random House in October. Doctors talk of how a reference for an angioplasty can earn a doctor a kickback; of how doctors order CAT scans and MRIs that are not required; and of doctors referring patients to a clinic for electrocardiograms for the sake of the commission.”
Find article here.

NHS ‘whistleblower’ demands apology and comparable job

BBC, 7 March 2015
Author: Adam Brimelow
“A former NHS boss who says he was sacked for raising patient safety concerns has asked the health secretary for an apology and a “comparable” job. In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, ex-United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust boss Gary Walker argues he is a whistleblower whose actions have been vindicated. But he says he has been blacklisted from working for the health service.”
Find article here.

GMC welcomes Sir Robert Francis’ report into NHS whistleblowing

GMC, statement 11 Feb 2015
“‘Freedom to Speak Up’, an independent review into creating an open and honest reporting culture in the NHS was published today. Led by Sir Robert Francis QC, the review (pdf) provides independent advice and recommendations on how to create a culture in which NHS staff feel safe to make disclosures about any aspect of the quality of care, malpractice or wrongdoing at work without fear of recrimination.”
Find statement here.

Cardiologist is investigated for charging Medicare $18m in one year

BMJ 2015;350:h765
Author: Owen Dyer
“The US Department of Justice has joined two whistleblower lawsuits against the country’s top billing cardiologist, Asad Qamar of Ocala, Florida, for charging Medicare for unnecessary interventions for peripheral vascular disease. The suits, filed under the False Claims Act, accuse the doctor, and his Institute for Cardiovascular Excellence, of intervening in almost every patient who is scanned for peripheral vascular disease.”
Find extract here.

Treatment of whistleblowers is “stain on reputation of NHS,” say MPs

BMJ 2015;350:h372
Author: Adrian O’Dowd
“Staff members who blow the whistle on poor practice in the NHS are still treated badly, with some being disciplined, victimised, or dismissed as a result, MPs have said. The plight of staff who blow the whistle was highlighted in a report published by the parliamentary select committee on health on 21 January, in which MPs said that the treatment of whistleblowers remained a “stain on the reputation of the NHS.”1”
Find extract here. See House of Commons Health Committee ‘Complaints and Raising Concerns’ report here.

Deafening silence? Time to reconsider whether organisations are silent or deaf when things go wrong

BMJ Qual Saf 2014;23:709-713 doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2013-002718
Authors: Aled Jones, Daniel Kelly
“Several public inquiries into healthcare failings in the UK have noted that employees of failing organizations attempt to raise concerns about shortcomings in care, often over a prolonged period of time, only for those concerns to be ignored. However, healthcare literature has largely focused on how organizations and their employees are silent in the face of such failings, positioning employees as daring not to speak in response to serious workplace problems or issues. We argue that only focussing on organizational silence is a critical mistake which misrepresents actual events and overly-simplifies the complexities of workplace culture. The disregard shown by academics, practitioners and policy makers to employee voice strategies, which do not amount to whistle-blowing, but equally cannot either be defined as “silence”, results in signals being ignored that can be effective in preventing and ending wrongdoing by others.”
Find abstract here.

What is an ethical response to the “torture” of immigration detention?

Croakey, the Crikey Health Blog, online 5 August 2014
Author: Melissa Sweet
“The ethical dilemmas that face health professionals involved in systems that support or profit from the mandatory detention of asylum seekers were explored recently by lawyer Brynn O’Brien in this must-read article for Australian Doctor. …O’Brien’s urgings are worth revisiting in light of this article in Guardian Australia today where Dr Peter Young, the chief psychiatrist responsible for the care of asylum seekers in detention for the past three years, accuses the Immigration Department of deliberately inflicting harm on vulnerable people. …Meanwhile, many thanks to freelance journalist and medical student Amy Coopes @coopesdetat) for tweet-reporting from a talk last night by Associate Professor Karen Zwi… a member of the Australian Human Rights Commission team that visited children in immigration detention on Christmas Island earlier this year.”
Find article here.