Lack of social worker curiosity led to uncovering human trafficking ring, whistleblowers report

NHS whistleblowers have uncovered a human trafficking ring as well as exposed a hospital which left just one doctor in charge of hundreds of patients overnight, according to a new report.

An increasing number of NHS staff have been raising concerns with Freedom to Speak Up Guardians – roles created as part of the response to the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust scandal.

Serious concerns raised with the guardians, include:

  • Gaps in junior doctor rotas left a single doctor responsible for hundreds of acutely unwell patients overnight.
  • A concern about the lack of curiosity of a social worker led to the uncovering of a modern slavery and human trafficking ring.

The report does not go into further detail about the cases, but does show that the number of staff raising concerns has steady increased since April last year.

Every NHS trust and foundation trust was required to have a Freedom to Speak Up Guardian in place by October 2016.

The Guardians, led by the National Guardian’s Office, have submitted their first full year of data on concerns raised by NHS staff.

Each quarter, the number of issues raised increased steadily, with more than 7,000 cases raised overall during 2017/18.

Meanwhile, separate data shows that in the first quarter of 2017/18, 2,348 cases were raised to Freedom to Speak Up Guardians.

The 2017/18 data show that nurses highlighted the most issues.

Concerns highlighted the most include problems with bullying or harassment, or concerns over patient safety or quality of care.

Dr Henrietta Hughes, National Guardian for the NHS, said: “Speaking up can take courage and it’s imperative that workers are thanked, listened to and their concerns are swiftly acted upon.

“The increase in the number of cases, quarter on quarter, that are being brought to guardians is encouraging as workers become more familiar with and confident in this new route for speaking up.

“It is worrying, however, that nearly a fifth of cases were from workers that felt the need to remain anonymous and that 5% of workers have described detriment after speaking up.

“Speaking up improves the care of patients and service users, protects our loved ones and improves the working lives of staff in the NHS.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire.