Community Care reports on a study by the charity, Public Concern at Work. It shows foster carers and social workers to be at risk of disciplinary action for whistle blowing.
The survey revealed that the most common reason for children’s care professionals blowing the whistle was because of abuse to those in their care and concerns about the safety of service users.
A separate Community Care survey found that of those who had reported concerns, more than 70% said no effective action had been taken. Some respondents had had disciplinary action taken against them and reported that they were reluctant to raise safety concerns in future.
These findings are deeply worrying. Organisations that inhibit people from raising safety concerns are inherently unsafe organisations. Managers are simply refusing to understand and address the potential for error that lurks in working practices, procedures and systems. Practitioners are being made to shoulder the burden of working unsafely. Service users are being put at risk. It is unfair and it is dangerous.
An organisation that takes safety seriously is one that encourages anybody with a safety concern to speak out. Such organisations actively promote reporting of safety concerns. They make it easy for people to report. They congratulate them for doing so and welcome the opportunity to learn and improve.
Organisations that punish people who report concerns preclude learning and development. They remain intractably unsafe. They put welfare and lives and careers at risk. In short they are a disgrace.