Not one doctor or nurse has ‘blown the whistle’ to raise concerns about standards at HRI or Calderdale Royal, it has been revealed.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) has admitted its ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ policy has gone completely unused since its launch last June.
But while the internal system was ignored, two concerns were flagged anonymously to the health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
One doctor decided to come to the Examiner to reveal serious worries about workloads and patient safety during the peak of the winter crisis in early January.
A report into the policy says: “No concerns have been logged on the trust’s Raising Concerns log to date, nor have staff utilised the ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’ or Head of Governance and Risk, to progress concerns.”
One of the staff who ran to the CQC complained about a shortage of nurses in the Acute Medical Unit at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.
After the CQC contacted the hospital a review was held which resulted in more being brought in.
The second anonymous whistleblower told the CQC they were concerned about safety in the maternity wards at Calderdale Royal.
They complained a high number of staff were leaving and claimed it was having an impact on standards in the theatres.
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Once notified the trust reviewed the leadership and safety culture and held training sessions to improve management standards.
While no one has used the official whistleblowing policing it has been revealed that almost 200 members of staff have emailed chief executive Owen Williams to ask questions since he launched a new ‘Ask Owen’ system in September 2015.
Queries have ranged from issues with the hospital shake-up plan to problems with the car park.
The report to the board concludes: “Whilst it is clear a substantial amount of work has been undertaken to develop an open and transparent culture there are still some areas for improvement, and these will be addressed during 2018.”
CHFT’s Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, Brendan Brown, added: “We firmly believe that if any colleague in any role has any concerns about the way healthcare is being provided here at CHFT then they have the channels to be able to raise them and are encouraged to raise them.
“The trust has an ‘Ask Owen’ service where colleagues can raise any issue in private directly with our chief executive, and this is very popular channel.
“We also have a ‘Freedom to Speak Up Guardian’ in local GP and a Non-Executive Dr David Anderson, in line with national guidance, to enable a further channel for staff to raise concerns.
“The trust responds to all issues and investigates no matter which channel is used to ensure the care we provide is of the safest and highest quality possible.”