Whistleblowing: How to Guide on Raising Concerns (Care Quality Commission)

[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 8, March 2012].

Summary

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published a brief guide, with contact details, for health and care workers who feel compelled to raise concerns about inadequate practices and standards in their workplace.

Staff are given practical advice on speaking out (“whistleblowing”) about poor care. This guide provides much-needed reassurance about the protection they can in turn expect from employer reprisal under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA).

Full Text Link

Reference

Care Quality Commission (2011). Raising a concern with CQC: A quick guide for health and care staff about whistleblowing. Newcastle upon Tyne: Care Quality Commission, December 2011.

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1 Response to Whistleblowing: How to Guide on Raising Concerns (Care Quality Commission)

  1. Maribel Clough says:

    When a person thinks of whistle-blowing, his loyalty maybe questioned at once but how should we determine whether the employee is doing this in order to correct the wrong doing in the company or is he just simply trying to put the employer in shame? Is he obliged to tell the truth for the betterment of the company’s health care services?

    According to Ronald Duska, “one does not have a duty of loyalty to a company, even a prima facie one, because companies are not proper objects of loyalty”. He bases this conclusion on two premises: first, that loyalty is appropriate only in relationships that demand self-sacrifice without expectation of reward, and second, that the employee-company relationship does not demand such sacrifice.” http://www.springerlink.com/content/r74668773m3472r5/)

    He is simply saying that as employees we don’t have an emotional relationship with the company per se as these are not individuals that we feel compassion and love towards. But I believe as an employee we still owe loyalty to the company because they have entrusted us to do the job with respect and dignity – bringing the name of the company in all duties that we are delegated with. I consider I have a contractual duty to uphold the mission and vision of the company thus the company has a contractual duty to me through wages and benefits. “A company has a contractual agreement with an employee for a particular range of services to be rendered, and an employee has a contractual agreement with an employer for certain pay and work conditions”. (Scholes, 2009, p. 16).

    There are two kinds of whistle blowers. One is internal whistle blowing and second is external whistle blowing. According to Wikipedia “internal whistleblowers are those who report misconduct on a fellow employee or superior within their company”. This could be from employee to the next high ranking official within the company premises. For instance, a supervisor may report this to the manager or from a manager level to the deputy manager. This is considered to be good for the company since the information that is disclosed is just within the company itself. The next high ranking official should be able to deal with the problem before escalating to the next higher level as long as the information stays within the company. If a person decides to blow the whistle, their loyalty will be challenged, but this does not override the obligation to report employees who are not doing their job truthfully or have violated the company’s code of ethics and code of conduct. This is the time to step up and speak up otherwise this inappropriate behaviour or practices will continue and thus will put the company’s reputation on the line. “To be a whistleblower is to reveal information with which one is entrusted”. ((Davis, 1996, p. 5)

    The Wikipedia defines external whistle blowers as the people who “report misconduct on outside persons or entities”. Certainly this is when the information is disclosed outside the company premises like divulging this to the media, government authorities and some would even expose serious wrong doings on social networking sites such as facebook, twitter, etc.

    I believe that the external whistle-blowing should be the last option for the employee. The wrong doing of another person should be settled first within the company unless the managers or the high ranking officials don’t do anything to rectify the wrong doing. In this case when the employee would resort to reveal the information externally, he or she is considered to be disloyal to the company.

    I think when blowing the whistle the following options should be considered:
    1. To give a chance to the company to rectify the wrong doing of one of the employees, the internal whistle blowing should be considered first. “Internal whistle-blowing is usually good for a company, because the activity being disclosed is often harmful to the company. It is in the company’s interest to find out and deal with such problems”. (Scholes, 2009, p.16). Let the high level official know before escalating the matter to the next higher up official. This is ideal in order to apply an incrementally stepped process to the situation. In the event that the next high level official doesn’t do anything about the situation, then it is ideal to talk to the manager or to the senior management team. In this way, the person blowing the whistle has been ethical in handling the situation.

    Looking at the Kantian moral theory, the employee should think carefully if his or her action is moral and can be willed universally. It is moral for the employee to tell the truth but will it still be moral if he or she just remains quiet?

    The duties of the employee should be considered and whether the information that has been blown up is part of his or her duties. Let’s say her role is to give the utmost care and the best practices being a health care worker and another employee or even the supervisor is not doing the same thing, then it is the employee’s responsibility to let the next high official know about the situation. The employee is morally obliged to tell the truth – otherwise the contractual agreement with him/her to the company is breached.

    From the virtue ethics point of view, the employee’s action on this situation is determined how virtuous his or her character is. This means that the employee should see to it that when blowing the whistle he or she has sized up the action that he is going to take. Whether he or she has analysed the situation well thus he should further reach out to the next high level official to ask for wisdom and tell them the truth.

    To those who are not familiar with the Kantian moral theory and Virtue ethics theory, this internal whistle blowing could simply relate to two paradoxes which are: the paradox of harm and the paradox of failure. According to Davis (1996) the “would be whistle blower must seek to prevent serious and considerable harm in order for the whistle blowing to be even morally permissible” (p.8). This simply means that the whistle blower should tell the immediate supervisor or manager at once in order to prevent the wrong doing that may cause potential harm to others. The paradox of failure relates to the paradox of harm. This means that whistle blowers have always tried to prevent harm but sometimes they’re not successful in doing so.

    2. In the event that there is no action from the supervisor, manager or even the senior management staff, I believe the next and the last option is to blow the whistle externally. “The activity being disclosed is usually of a sort that the company will be worse off if the public finds out”. (Scholes, 2009, p.17). This will be hard and challenging for the employee as the company will view him or her as disloyal because the company’s reputation will be the talk of the public and will be scrutinised.

    Furthermore, when all avenues have been exhausted internally, yet the result is not as desired, the last option (which is external whistle blowing) is to tell of this activity publicly. The consequences of this are significant and relate to the paradox of burden. According to Davis (1996) whistle blowers “always act at considerable risk to career, and generally, at considerable risk to their financial security and personal relations” (p.8).

    In most countries, the employee who blew the whistle in public will be protected by the governing body of the industry or by some government organisation. Once the employee has chosen to reveal the information externally he or she should seek protection immediately as his or her life or even the family members may be in danger (in extreme examples).

    References:
    Davis, M. (1996). Some paradoxes of whistleblowing. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 15(1), 3-19.

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whistleblower).

    The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. (2009). Module Two. 71203 Business ethics. Lower Hutt, NZ:
    Author.

    (http://www.springerlink.com/content/r74668773m3472r5/).

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