Sunday, 27 October 2013

Whistle stop

New laws were passed a while back to protect whistleblowers and stop them being penalised for exposing things other people would like to keep hidden.

But in practice the laws have had little effect and people who're brave enough to ask awkward questions and challenge malpractices are still relentlessly persecuted.

They can lose their job, lose their home, lose a lot of friends, and be quite traumatised by hate campaigns and personal attacks. They still take a huge risk in speaking out.

Julie Bailey, the woman who exposed the substandard care and unnecessary deaths at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, has been so persistently harrassed that she has had to sell her business, sell her home and move to a caravan park fifty miles away. She has effectively been run out of town.

Hers isn't an isolated case. Others who "tell tales" in the same way have been similarly persecuted and hounded to try and shut them up and prevent them telling the truth. I know personally of one woman who can no longer find work in the food trade after she complained of sexual discrimination and had to change career to make a living.

The fact is that unless you're prepared to have your life ruined and your professional reputation trampled on, you shouldn't speak out about wrongdoing and corruption but should pretend you know nothing about it and everything in the garden is rosy.

Too many people and organisations still object to their work or their behaviour being criticised, even if the criticism is well-deserved and in the public interest. They'll go to any lengths to close ranks and silence the troublemakers. No wonder whistleblowers are still such a rarity.

Pic: Julie Bailey

10 comments:

Bijoux said...

Wow! That's an awful story. It sounds similar to stories here about people trying to fight union corruption. Some groups have so much money and power that the general public is helpless to fight it.

Nick said...

Bijoux: I think there was an element of union corruption here. Julie says the Labour Party and the NHS unions refused to support her, even though she was a long-standing Labour Party member.

Money and power indeed.

Wisewebwoman said...

And these are the real heroes of our age. We should be erecting statues and giving them lifelong pensions. Instead we vilify and ostracise.

The power of corruption indeed.

Everything is tainted.

XO
WWW

Grannymar said...

If you open your mouth, you are wrong and if you keep it shut, then it is understood that you condone the wrong doing. What to do? At times like these I am glad to be out of the workplace altogether.

Jenny Woolf said...

Did you hear Lisa Martin, the woman who blew the whistle on appalling care home, on Radio 4 the other day? She has had her life made a misery too. I don't know why life is made so hard for whistleblowers, either. I suppose it is a rather primitive thing, like we all hated "sneaks" at school or something. ???

Nick said...

www: Statues and lifelong pensions indeed. They have the courage to point out failings that have been systematically hushed up by everyone else.

Grannymar: If you are in the workplace, and expected to collude in something objectionable, it must be very hard to deal with.

Nick said...

Jenny: Yes, Lisa Martin is another good example. She "reached breaking point when she was told there had been 28 errors in administering drugs in a single shift." She could no longer stand by and watch such incompetence and neglect any longer.

Rummuser said...

We have had a great many of such harassment and a few cases of murders too here. The public and the media however are raising a stink and hopefully the incidents of harassment etc will come down soon.

Nick said...

Ramana: I'm glad the public and media are protesting, and I hope that has some effect. Too much scandalous behaviour goes on behind closed doors.

Nick said...

Apparently the relevant law only covers whistleblowers who are victimised by their employer but doesn't extend to reprisals or bullying by fellow workers. How absurd is that?