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Six Top Tips for Potential Whistleblowers i.e. Doctors

All doctors are potential whistleblowers both by virtue of personal calling and professional duty (there could be legal liability for not blowing the whistle) but the path is a notoriously difficult one. Medicine unlike aerospace has an appalling record for shooting the messenger as the Francis Report made clear. That being so what in a nutshell are the top tips to be given to whistleblowers?

  1. Make sure you have legal expenses insurance. LEI is a small inexpensive add on to many motor and household contents policies, usually providing up to £100,000 of cover. If your policy does not offer it think about changing insurer. It can provide an invaluable alternative or complement to BMA/MDS membership benefits. If the BMA were to withdraw support, you would have somewhere to go
  2. Make notes of anything that is concerning you recording as much detail as possible without breaching patient confidentiality (. Use patient numbers).
  3. Do not separately access medical records in order to substantiate your concerns. That might be classed as an abuse which would be separate ground for disciplinary action against you.
  4. Take legal advice before you blow the whistle. The stakes are too high to wait till you are penalized.
  5. If you decide to raise concerns do so in writing giving as much detail as possible. Those who blow the whistle orally are protected in theory but find it difficult to prove their case in practice.
  6. If you feel action (i.e. an unfair performance review) is being taken against you record your concern in writing. Consider pushing back. Keep a detailed diary of who said or did what and when.

If anyone has any comments I would be glad to hear them.


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