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Concerns over ‘local leadership’ helped drive doubling of whistleblowing in December

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The NHS’ response to the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic saw the number of whistleblowing concerns raised with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) almost double in December, with the strength of local leadership among the most frequent complaints.

Many parts of the NHS, particularly in the South East, were suffering major covid pressures in December, and the regulator received 204 whistleblowing concerns, compared to 105 in the same month in 2019.

The most common complaints were around staffing levels, infection control and leadership.

The rise in complaints was revealed by CQC chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker in an interview with HSJ. Professor Baker also said the pandemic had proved that the NHS’ emergency care system lacked “resilience”.

Trusts which the regulator has received concerns about in recent months have included Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, over poor staffing levels and infection controls, University Hospitals Birmingham FT, around staffing levels and leadership concerns, and Mid and South Essex FT, over concerns around the provision of oxygen.

Professor Baker told HSJ: “One of the really positive things that has happened during the pandemic is an increase in the number of people raising concerns with us. It’s been really helpful for us in assessing the risk in the system."

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Source: HSJ, 8 February 2021

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