Whistleblowers unheard by CQC


Please sign and share:

Petition to replace weak UK whistleblowing law to protect whistleblowers and the public


By Minh Alexander @alexander_minh, Pam Linton @midwiferysister, Clare Sardari @SardariClare and a fourth NHS whistleblower. First published 2 December 2016 by Open Democracy

This is a report by whistleblowers that has been submitted to the Health Committee. It describes how the Cat Quality Commission continues to fail whistleblowers and keeps a lid on national whistleblowing data. This vital information should in fact be published and used to drive improvement.

The full report with links to supporting FOI data can be found here:

Click to access whistleblowers-unheard-by-cqc-final1.pdf

An article of 6 December 2016 by the Times, which drew on the data from this report and a related article published by Open Democracy on 2 December 2016, can be found here:



Report Summary:

Common decency and good governance requires that whistleblower’s concerns are listened to, properly explored, analysed for patterns and transparently learned from. However, governments may deliberately put ineffective or inadequate structures and processes in place to deal with whistleblowers, to make it look as if something is being done when it is not. 1 The Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) 2 is critically flawed partly because it does not set out the responsibilities of the bodies that have a legal duty to receive disclosures from whistleblowers – so called “prescribed persons”. Since PIDA came into force in 1999, prescribed bodies have revealed little information about the nature and extent of whistleblowers’ concerns.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is a prime example of such opacity, despite repeated promises to be transparent. The CQC has for years resisted proper, proactive use of whistleblower intelligence. The CQC has unparalleled whistleblowing data, yet it has still not provided a systematic, national picture of whistleblowing in health and social care. The CQC has responded reluctantly, scantily and sometimes inaccurately when asked for data about its analysis and use of whistleblower intelligence. Even with very incomplete and possibly inaccurate reporting by CQC, it seems there have well been over 33,347 whistleblowing contacts with CQC since its inception. From data for the year 2012/13, the great majority (86%) of whistleblowing contacts have related to social care.

However, there is very little data on the nature of concerns or how they were resolved. Only partial information has been provided under FOI, but even this shows that CQC is often informed about serious care failures and institutional cover ups. However, the data also suggests that CQC relies heavily on what employers say they have done to resolve staff concerns. Quite often, CQC does not even contact the regulated body and merely records very serious disclosures as “information noted for future inspections”, with no further record of outcome.

Questions arise about CQC’s past claim to Health Committee that it would investigate “every single [whistleblower] case”. 3

There is no evidence that CQC systematically tracks whether whistleblowers experience detriment after whistleblowing. CQC has made no effort to analyse intelligence supplied by Employment Tribunals about whistleblowing claims against employers. CQC largely does not reveal the numbers of whistleblowers in each organisation. This adds to isolation and marginalisation to which whistleblowers are sometimes deliberately subjected by employers.

CQC has not taken any evident action to deter still widespread use of gags in the NHS. It has not used its powers to remove any senior managers who have covered up and mistreated whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers are not properly protected. Unmet harm and need, and malfeasance identified by whistleblowers remain largely obscured, at a time of harsh public sector cuts when whistleblowers’ voices need to be heard loud and clear.

CQC has failed whistleblowers and the public in the past. It still does not meet parliament’s expectations on whistleblowing. CQC has also not acted properly on the recommendations of the Freedom to Speak Up Review on NHS whistleblowing.

We call on parliament to recognise that CQC has seriously failed and is unlikely to change its approach, and to ensure that there is now serious and credible whistleblowing reform.


Please sign and share:

Petition to replace weak UK whistleblowing law to protect whistleblowers and the public


1 An example of this is the situation in Hungary where whistleblower protection law was passed, but no agency was established to receive or investigate disclosures.


2 Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998


3 Oral evidence by Mike Richards CQCChief Inspector of Hospitals 17 June 2014 to Health Committee inquiry on whistleblowing:

What we can say is that every single case will be investigated. We will look at those whistleblowing cases as we hear about them, or other patient concerns, and say, “Who is the most appropriate person to be dealing with that?” It may be one of our inspectors or it may be one of our managers, one of our heads of hospital inspection, but we will take it seriously every time.”


13 thoughts on “Whistleblowers unheard by CQC

  1. Hello good people,

    May I just point out, the second paragraph of the intro, should be the “Care Quality Commission” instead of the “Cat Quality Comm.” although the more I think about it, that could explain a lot.

    In the meantime, I will thank you and will read the article properly when I can give it the proper time.

    Kindest regards, Zara.

    On 5 December 2016 at 02:39, Alexander’s Excavations wrote:

    > minhalexander posted: “By Minh Alexander @alexander_minh, Pam Linton > @midwiferysister, Clare Sardari @SardariClare and a fourth NHS > whistleblower. First published 2 December 2016 This is a report by > whistleblowers that has been submitted to the Health Committee. It > describes h” >


  2. Re: [New post] Whistleblowers unheard by CQC

         Hi Minh, Maybe its worth offloading on this site…..I have! https://www.facebook.com/dialog/share?app_id=180444840287&href=https%3A%2F%2Fdiscussion.theguardian.com%2Fcomment-permalink%2F88854406&quote=jdubs81%20commented%3A%20%22They%20appear%20to%20be%20making%20it%20easy.%22 Have posted on Twitter and Facebook too!

    Dee x

    Monday, December 5, 2016, 2:39:26 AM, you wrote:

    minhalexander posted: “By Minh Alexander @alexander_minh, Pam Linton @midwiferysister, Clare Sardari @SardariClare and a fourth NHS whistleblower. First published 2 December 2016 This is a report by whistleblowers that has been submitted to the Health Committee. It describes h” 

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How can the national Regulator for Healthcare be allowed to lack transparency, accountability and openness to this degree? It is a clear failure in duty to present the data. And it is a clear failure of DHSC and Government /parliament to force them to. It is the usual lip service to regulation. Write great rules and objectives setting out what people reasonably expect, set up a Regulator to oversee it all, and then do the precise opposite of every stated word. Then stick somebody like Sir Robert Francis on the board, who has eulogised on all the issues following public inquiries and knows the truth – only to do absolutely nothing about when in a position of power to make that change. Or when families approach him directly. This is the shocking state of all UK public agencies and government.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks. Yes, it was shocking indeed. After we submitted the data, CQC eventually started routine publication of basic whistleblower statistics. These were not as informative as they could be, but they did reveal that CQC was simply noting many whistleblowers’ concerns as information for the next inspection, instead of taking any actual action. I think it was over half at one point. Recently, CQC have slid back into just publishing very brief raw numbers of whistleblowing contacts, thinking perhaps no one will notice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to say, that based upon very recent personal experience, and having read the comments of former whistleblowers, nothing at the CQC appears to have changed, with Sir Robert Francis QC remaining on the board and just as indolent as ever. To the extent, that criminal charges raised by CQC Inspectors & Head of Hospital Inspection, following ‘unusually detailed’ 18 month long investigation (under Regulation 12 Safe Care & Treatment), were instructed that they could not raise prosecution against individuals and must prosecute the Trust.
        Only for the whole matter to then be obstructed without detailed account by their superiors /legal department. Who some considerable time later, then (conflictingly) confirmed that Inspectors could actually prosecute individuals at a Trust (managers, directors, secretary and board members) under their available powers. But still, nothing happens.
        The Inspectors & Head of Inspection, only raised prosecution of this sort after very careful consideration, cause, and evidence, as this action would be unprecedented against staff at an acute NHS Trust. But even so the CQC refuse to address a thing.

        The CQC, at senior executive and legal levels, appears corrupt to the core, still only believing in protecting reputations and their own positions above any concern for patent safety. And failing to consider that they are accountable in any way. And Sir Robert, may well have identified many abusive practices in the NHS following Mid Staffs that he reported on at length and brought about change. But he is simply unwilling to ensure that his own recommendations are enforced and action taken, or to stand up for families. So he is an utter hypocrite. But hey, whoever pays the piper – calls the tune.

        Liked by 1 person

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