Monday, 11 February 2019

How to protect yourself if you need to blow the whistle.

An honest practitioner with a very high level of integrity, wishes to ‘come out’ about the failure of an NHS service in their area, as serious as any already in the public domain, costing lives.

What does that person have to do, to ‘come out’ safely and unscathed?  Is it even possible?

Even writing these questions feels dangerous, such is the corrupt nature of some of our NHS management.

For example, in order to prepare for his whistleblowing, a consultant had his mental health checked before he blew the whistle because he knew they would say he was mentally ill - and they did!  He had the evidence to show he was in fact perfectly sane.

If an activist ‘comes out’ the huge danger is that management will make false allegations and the activist will be suspended with all that follows, therefore stopping the campaign and  causing the activist long term harm.

Would it be possible to take a very very low profile, to be unidentifiable?  Or even resign from post. And then be active.
What a choice to have to make.

Might there be a high profile champion, and would this champion be safe from false allegations and action against them too?  Probably not judging by the high profile people who have become victims over these last years.   Ironically, allowing the failings, even knowing they are in the wrong, seems to drive management forward, loudly proclaiming their innocence almost as a matter of principle, or is it all about protecting themselves?

Craig Longstaff is a veteran whistleblower.  He added the following very insightful safety requirements.

(1) If someone wants to be "active", they need to go to the very top & garner full support from the chief executive officer, or resign & then become active.

(2) NEVER blow the whistle or rock the boat from within, while you are vulnerable & dependant on them paying you - find another job, resign (stating why in the resignation letter - as per recent case law on the issue of resignation letters / dismissal claims) - & blow the whistle in writing on the exit day.

(3) Ensure, before they start rocking the boat / striking the match, that the person has up-to-date appraisal / performance reviews (& get copies if they don’t have them) that are dated & signed by both the staff member AND (especially) the senior/reviewer.

Hopefully this will show positive outcomes; they need to make sure it is covered & documented in their appraisals that management have no issues.

When the time comes - & sadly on balance it will - where they are accused falsely, investigated & the chronology of "issues" is back-trawled (it has been known to be 4 years and longer)  they  can use their appraisal/s to link sudden changes to any "non-compliant" activity managers are claiming, thus creating legal causal link to bullying and harassment /victimisation.

(4) Be mentally & emotionally aware of the ramifications of good actions around socio-psychopathic managers & HR staff; you can never prepare for the depths they stoop to, but you can be aware & try to counter.

(5) In any investigation say as little as possible  because they WILL "misinterpret" & manipulate your words to fit their intended outcome.

It is for them to prove guilt, not the accused to prove their innocence, whilst countering any "evidence" presented where necessary.

If possible, make written statements only (so first meeting/s, let them know nothing will be said until the very end when they've provided all their accusations & evidence - be VERY aware of trap interview tactics. Reply to their questions with more questions, rather than pliable verbal replies / statements, as much as possible.

(6) Finally, keep focused & see the wood for the trees (keep situationally aware & avoid tunnel vision), & don't become a victim - I did, & I'm still recovering.

There is a lot of published research to support what is being written here.  Here is one such powerful recent example.

Dr Rachael Pope has found organisational silence to be a significant aspect of NHS organisational dysfunction that is very powerful and stops those organisations from learning and changing, hence recurrent public inquiries into failed and failing NHS services that may cost patients their lives.

Dr Pope’s research has identified a culture of blindness, deafness and destructive behaviours that effectively silence and destroy.

Staff are afraid to speak out.  Their actions won’t hit brick walls but instead effective silencing actions that can engulf and destroy them.

How different it would be if the NHS was willing to listen and learn honestly in a culture of respect.

See Organizational silence in the NHS: 'Hear no, see no, speak no' -

The practitioner alone has to make the decision, one they can live with.

For myself, I would leave the organisation with all the evidence I required, get settled in my new job and then ‘blow that whistle’ but knowing that it would be a costly and lonely journey to take.

Yours sadly,