A former nurse at scandal hit Stafford Hospital has called for whistleblowing to be encouraged ‘as actively as hand hygiene’.
And Helene Donnelly, who worked as an A&E nurse at the hospital, said major changes are needed in the way checks by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are carried out.
She spoke to magazine ‘Nursing Standard’ ahead of Sir Robert Francis’s report into failings at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, which is due out today.
The medic, based at the hospital between 2002 and 2008, told the Francis Inquiry in October, 2011, of her experiences.
In this week’s interview, she said: “There should be more unannounced inspections. Inspectors should speak to more staff, from cleaners to doctors, and employers should not be allowed to pick staff for inspectors to speak to.”
Helene added that in 11 years as a nurse she had never been interviewed by inspectors.
She also believes the Nursing and Midwifery Council should require proof nurses have had an appraisal before allowing them to re-register. “In the six years I was at Mid Staffs I never had an appraisal. An appraisal would have allowed me to raise my concerns about care and the bullying.”
Helene joined Mid Staffs in 2002, moving to A&E two years later. She claims bullying was rife, patients treated like ‘an inconvenience’ and repeated attempts to raise concerns went unaddressed.
Helene believes whistleblowing should be vigorously promoted in hospitals. “Although doing this is hugely daunting, ultimately it has not harmed my career. I am now a band 7 nurse. More importantly, I can sleep at night because I know I did my best for patients and I did try to speak out.’
A CQC spokesperson said: ‘We always speak to nurses as part of our inspections of NHS trusts. We observe nurses at work, talk to them and advertise our presence through
the head of nursing and by putting up posters. CQC also runs a dedicated whistleblowers hotline.”