The basis of safeguarding adults is to protect adults who have needs that make them vulnerable to abuse and neglect, as well as the risk of it. People working with adults at risk have a duty to protect them at all times, including reporting any instances where this is not the case.
What is Whistleblowing?
Whistleblowing is the process whereby an employee raises a concern about malpractice, wrongdoing, risk, or illegal proceedings, which harms or creates a risk of harm to the people who use the service, employees, or the wider community.
Whistleblowing is not the same as making a complaint or raising a grievance. It ‘s about situations where an employee has witnessed some form of malpractice in their workplace and needs to raise a concern.
Healthcare professionals have a duty of care towards adults at risk and a responsibility to draw attention to poor practice in their workplace. Failing to come forward can be considered collusion with the person(s) who has caused the harm.
Any organisation that interacts with adults at risk should have a whistleblowing policy in place. This policy should outline the organisation’s whistleblowing procedure and provide a detailed explanation about what staff members should do if they suspect instances of wrongdoing.
In the first instance, a staff member should raise their concerns with their line manager or the Designated Safeguarding Person within their organisation.
However, someone may choose not to do this for multiple reasons and go straight to a prescribed body instead. They may want to remain anonymous, believe that the organisation will try to cover it up or ignore it, be worried of being treated unfairly for making the complaint, or they may know that the issue was raised before but wasn’t dealt with.
Additionally, a person may choose to go to a prescribed body after they’ve reported their concern internally if it wasn’t dealt with in an appropriate and timely manner.
Prescribed bodies include Police, Social Services, The Care Quality Commission (CQC), who are the independent regulator of health and social care services in England. The CQC have published a guide for contacting them on their website.
Whistleblowers are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA). People can challenge practices in their workplace and not be discriminated against because of it.