Parliament calls upon Government, Edinburgh Council, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust (and the Union who threatened whistleblower with legal action) to comment on his NHS Hotline Petition

On Thursday 15th September the Scottish Parliamentary Petitions Committee agreed to write to a wide range of bodies as well as the Scottish NHS unions, including Unite, for comment on petition PE01605: Whistleblowing in the NHS – a safer way to report mismanagement and bullying from whistleblower Pete Gregson.

Unite had threatened Mr Gregson with legal action for mentioning their name on his publicity flyers, even though the local Unite NHS Lothian Branch, who donated the funds for them, had requested it.

But it is not just Unite who are opposed to safer facilities for NHS whistleblowers. All the big Scottish health service unions have refused to support the petition and won’t allow their members to discuss it either.

In the hope of trying to get some support, Mr Gregson has been running a petition calling on the public to join him in making the NHS a safer place and invites them to sign his petition at tinyurl.com/workplacedemocracy to get this issue out in the open.

Parliament TV filmed the petition - see it at 23 minutes in at  www.scottishparliament.tv/20160915_public_pets

Mr Gregson hopes that, with enough encouragement, the unions will see that this is a cause they ought to be supporting. He believes the NHS will be safer – and cheaper for all us - if they do.

The costs to the NHs of whistleblowers are huge – Dr Jane Hamilton of St John’s Hospital cost the NHS £1M in locum cover in the time she was off work. Mr Gregson now has an FOI into the cost of the suspensions of the Queen’s Surgeon Professor Krukowski and Doctor Wendy Craig in Aberdeen who blew the whistle over unnecessary operations at the ARI.

Mr Gregson’s hotline would cost no more than £150K pa- and would replace that provided by PCAW at present. Mr Gregson thinks it would be a cheaper solution and would help reduce the estimated £40M compensation claimed annually from NHS Scotland.

Mr Gregson campaigned for a similar hotline at Edinburgh Council. The hotline (cost £45K) has been in place since May 2014 and was recently lauded by the Council in its Whistleblowing Annual Report : “Many of the recommendations that have resulted from investigations have led to amendments to policy, improvements to procedures and processes, the development and sharing of best practice and improved service delivery.”

The proposed hotline has the support of Gary Wilson, ex-Employee Director of NHS Health Scotland. He supports the idea that the hotline would take reports to regional Health Boards. Each Health Board has a Staff Governance Committee made up of non-executive directors.

He said “For too long non-Exec members have had little knowledge of what goes in the health service, apart from what they hear from the Chairperson or Chief Executive when they come to the monthly meetings. The hotline gives a fantastic opportunity for them to get properly involved. There is an ongoing problem where almost 50% of health service staff won’t speak up if they see something wrong. And bullying from managers and colleagues remains a big issue- 15% of staff complain of this. The bi-annual staff surveys show that over the last 6 years these figures haven’t improved. We need to take action and the current helpline and champions just aren’t working.“

The full official report of Proceedings is out now. The whistleblowing petition starts near the bottom of page 8 www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=10525&mode=pdf

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