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Parliamentary committee demands NHS ‘cultural change’ to encourage GP whistle blowers

GPs who report failings of colleagues and healthcare institutions should not be known as ‘whistleblowers' but welcomed as improvers of service, the influential Commons health select committee has said.

Publishing its report on failings in the Care Quality Commission's inspection regime, chair Stephen Dorrell said the NHS needed a ‘cultural change' as well as improved checks by the regulator.

Committee chair and former health secretary Stephen Dorrell said: ‘The culture of the NHS in relation to whistleblowers has a long way to go, in fact a sign of success would be that GPs and other health professionals who raised concerns within the NHS were not known as whistleblowers because that would be a sign that the culture is right.'

'The popular image of a whistleblower is of an individual in a hostile environment telling the truth against the odds and what we want is for people to feel that it is their obligation to raise concerns about care and it is their employers responsibility to take that seriously and support them as improvers of service.'

When three different bodies covering health, mental health and social care merged to form the CQC in April 2009 ministers also ordered the Commission to take on the additional responsibility of registering tens of thousands of providers.

The idea was that hospitals, care homes, GPs and private sector groups would be assessed against a set of standards to ensure they were fit to provide a service.

But the health select committee found that this resulted in patients being put at risk by an 'unacceptable' 70% fall in the number of inspections of hospitals and care homes.

Mr Dorrel also endorsed the government's decision to delay the CQC registration of GPs and said that the process should be thoroughly checked to ensure minimum disruption to family doctors.

In response to a question from Pulse, Mr Dorrell said: ‘Before there is any further registration process involving GPs the process itself has to be thoroughly piloted and tested so that it achieves its purpose with minimum disruption.

'The CQC has to be satisfied that it can achieve that outcome without the distortion to its core role of inspecting existing health and social care facilities.'

CQC registration for GPs and primary medical services has been postponed until April 2013, and Pulse revealed this week the CQC will use the delay to streamline the registration process and pare the requirements 'back to the bare bones'.