A Midland doctor who claims he lost his job after blowing the whistle on dangerous practices says he hopes no-one else should endure his ordeal on the eve of a key report.
The report, by Sir Robert Francis, will look at creating an open reporting culture in the NHS after a string of high-profile incidents in which staff were targeted for raising concerns about care.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt commissioned the Francis Freedom to Speak Up review after a meeting with six senior NHS professionals, including Dr David Drew from Walsall and Dr Raj Mattu from Coventry.
The Midland pair said, although they raised concerns out of genuine interest in patient safety, they were targeted, ostracised and driven out.
Dr Mattu won an employment tribunal against his suspension and sacking from the Walsgrave Hospital after warning that patients were dying on an overcrowded cardiac unit. The legal battle could cost the NHS £20 million, including costs and payout.
Dr David Drew who worked at Walsall Manor Hospital had highlighted failures which affected babies' health, child safety on wards, understaffing and bullying.
Dr Drew, a Christian, was targeted when he emailed a prayer to his colleagues, hoping it would be motivational. An investigation was started and a review panel told him to "keep his religious beliefs to himself".
When he refused to accept the findings, the father-of-four was sacked from the hospital where he worked as a clinical director.
Speaking about the new Francis review, Dr Drew said: "This new review is a frank admission, once again, that all is not well in the NHS.
"Variable, substandard and sometimes abysmal care is still all too common. In hospitals where frontline staff attempt to address this they are often met with a wall of silence and hostility by management. This was our own experience.
"In a recent speech, Hunt, with alarming recognition, wished out loud that some NHS chief executives would behave a little less like Stalin and model themselves more on Ghandi, the great soul of tolerance and compassion."
Speaking before the review is published next Wednesday, Sir Robert said: "Those who speak up when things go wrong in the NHS should be welcomed for the contribution they can make to patient safety. I very much hope that all those with ideas on how to create and maintain a culture of openness and honesty in the NHS will offer them to the review."
Research for the report has included more than 600 submissions, mainly from concerned individuals, and a volunteered phone survey which reached out to 17,500 people.
Dr Drew added: "We have come a long way since Sir David Nicholson told the Mid-Staffs public inquiry that whistleblowing and bullying was not a significant problem in the NHS. That is the attitude of denial that has allowed this culture to fester and hold back staff engagement in safer patient care. Whistleblowers who raise concerns are still at risk of losing their job."
The group of NHS staff said that they were hoping that their cases will be used to inform how the NHS will act in the future.
Dr Drew said: "We look forward to reading its recommendations within days of this. If, by any chance, these attempts to fix the future do not fully address the past, they will, in my opinion, fail.
"Without a judicial examination of historic cases including the failure of the Department of Health, trust boards, unions, regulators, Royal Colleges, and others to support whistleblowers the truth will never be known.
"The whistleblowers have lost their careers. Their families have been damaged, in some cases beyond repair. Their health has suffered and personal finances often lie in tatters. The perpetrators will never be held accountable for their behaviour. Worst of all patient harm will go unaddressed and the vital lessons of this tragic history will go un-learned.
"Hunt and Francis understand this better than most. The report and the way it is implemented will tell us if they have found the political will to translate their understanding into decisive action, or if life under Stalin is to continue as normal."