Social care employers must have robust whistleblowing procedures in place so that their staff have the confidence to report them internally, rather than directly to the CQC, law firm Royds Withy King has urged.
The call comes after data obtained by the Daily Express showed that whistleblowing by care staff increased by 66% over three months.
Staff made 2,043 complaints to the CQC between March 1 and May 21, a figure equal to 25 a day, and up from the 1,230 complaints made during the same period last year.
The majority of concerns were related to infection control and social distancing (32%), and a lack of PPE (26%).
Partner James Sage, head of the Health & Social Care at Royds Withy King, said that while it comes as “no surprise” that the pandemic has created an increased risk of whistleblowing disclosures, it is a “concern” that staff are bypassing employers and making reports directly to the CQC.
He added: “This highlights the importance of having robust and well-managed whistleblowing procedures so that staff have the confidence that their concerns will be addressed effectively internally without the need for them to report directly to CQC.”
Kate Terroni, CQC’s chief inspector of Adult Social Care, said: “It’s in everyone’s interests that staff are able to speak up freely and are not prevented from raising their concerns about quality and safety – and all providers have a responsibility to support their staff to share concerns safely without fear of reprisal.
“All organisations that provide care must have whistleblowing procedures and make them available to their employees and staff should use these procedures if they have any concerns about care. It is also vitally important that information of concern is shared with us directly – we will use all the information we receive to inform our regulation of services and take action where necessary.
“Staff have been going to extraordinary lengths to deliver good, safe care during this global crisis – if they are experiencing barriers to the delivery of that care, we want to hear from them and we are encouraged that so many staff have been brave enough to raise concerns with us.”
Return to HCI next week for some practical tips for dealing with whistleblowing disclosures.
HCI reported yesterday that the CQC will widen its approach to monitoring from next month.